Magazine article Sunset

And the Living Is Easy: Welcome to Summer-And the Ultimate Outdoor Living Room Created for Our 2012 Celebration Weekend

Magazine article Sunset

And the Living Is Easy: Welcome to Summer-And the Ultimate Outdoor Living Room Created for Our 2012 Celebration Weekend

Article excerpt

Our fantasy, as the weather gets warm?

That we can just pick up our lives and move them outside. Which is exactly what our Ultimate Outdoor Living Room, unveiled at this past June's Celebration Weekend open house, in Menlo Park, California, is all about. Here, you could spend all day entertaining, lounging, reading, napping--even cooling off in the shower. But the design's riot just about indulgence. If you look closely, you'll see space-saving touches (the tilt-up chaises rising from the deck), salvaged materials put to work (check out the bar's countertop), and the efficient use of what is, after all, only 1,700 square feet of outdoor space.

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FIREPIT CIRCLE

For before-dinner drinks or after-dinner s'mores, the space offers two connected--but distinct--sitting areas. This lower one is centered on a firepit built of paving stones. Indoor-outdoor cushions soften the built-in curved benches, made of decking that was heat-molded on-site into the right shape.

THE BAR ZONE

On the upper level overlooking the firepit, a sturdy cast-iron sink anchors the bar. The counter itself is made with almost-as-sturdy Asian hardwoods reclaimed from shipping crates.

* SHOWER OASIS

Exotic water-loving plants like bloodleaf (a Brazilian native) and the carnivorous pitcher plant grow in mesh pouches that tine the outdoor shower, almost disguising its purpose. The spiky red phormiums aren't often associated with wet locations, but they'll be happy enough in a spot like this as long as the drainage is good.

SUN LOUNGE

These chaises pop straight out of the decking. The back is hinged at the base; you just Lift up the far end and insert the prop to hold it open. (If you want to use the area for another purpose, lower them so they're flush with the deck.)

NAPPING NOOK

The yard's deck curls up and over the nook like a wave, shading it from the sun. (You could also plant vines at its base, turning it into an arbor.) Both the rocking bed and chair, made of recycled wood and steel, are rugged enough to survive outside all summer.

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MODULAR RETREAT

The curves of the House Arc shed--and its integral N.-wooden-shade superstructure--echo the "wave") of the backyard's deck (Page 45). Its footprint is a mere, 8 by 12 feet, and the steel-tube frame keeps the 'Weight down to 3,000 pounds. Palo Alto, California--based architect Joseph Bellomo designed the House Arc with an eye toward supplying easy-to-build emergency housing; but the units are equally suited to providing extra storage, entertainment space, or even a guest room. …

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