Indoor amenities make their way into the backyard.By Laura DeSisto | Photography by Jack Foley
What do you get with the house that has everything?
Increasingly, the answer to this question seems to be high-end outdoor spaces with all the amenities. Architect Heidi Condon of HC Design, Inc. in Scituate has seen a rise in requests for outdoor spaces from her South Shore clients.
“Despite the harsh New England weather, many homeowners are installing outdoor living and kitchen areas,” says Condon. “Most want easy entertaining with a large built-in grill, appliances and counters so they can cook and still be part of the action.”
In 2010, Condon helped a Cohasset family renovate and restore the magnificent 7,000-square-foot Belcliffe Estate (circa 1872) perched atop the famed “gold coast” of Jerusalem Road. As much as the family enjoyed their newly restored home, as their three children grew, they wanted to create outdoor areas where they could gather with friends and family.
Condon was re-enlisted for the outdoor project and teamed up with landscape architect Sean Papich to maximize the use of the landscape. The result is a multi-functional space with several distinct zones: a gunite pool and hot tub, blue stone patios, flat grassy play areas, seasonal gardens and a spectacular pool house.
“The pool house is really the jewel on the property,” says Condon. “We were able to incorporate all the bells and whistles—a working kitchen, a lounge area complete with an outdoor TV and sophisticated sound system, layered lighting, glass windows and a bar area with a moveable wall of windows called a Nanawall, which can be used to close off the seating area, providing protection from the elements and extending the use of the space into the fall.”
Condon notes that pool houses are often designed with wide openings that afford a seamless transition between outdoor and indoor spaces. In this case, the transition was eased by architectural details that echo those of the main house. The columns, for example, are finished in the same stone and shingle detail as the 1890s home.
Bluestone patterns—designed by landscape architect Sean Papich and installed by James Rosano and Son Masonry—extend from inside the pool house to the patio area and the edge of natural stone outcroppings.
“We incorporated a mix of rustic, irregular bluestone to complement the existing ledge stone and Select Blue bluestone—a diamond pattern with a formal banding for the area in front of the pool pavilion—for a more tailored approach at the outdoor living/dining space. The intent for that treatment is for it to feel like an area rug in an outdoor living/dining room,” says Papich, whose firm has also seen a surge in requests for outdoor living spaces.
“Back when I started out of college in 1989, most homeowners were looking for help with pools, terraces and walkways, and then choosing plant materials. Now, depending upon the project, we could be designing outdoor kitchens, fire features, shade structures, play areas, lounge areas with outdoor TVs, even ‘she-sheds’ and ‘man caves’,” says Papich.
In the case of the Belcliffe Estate, the lot was large enough for Papich to incorporate multiple “use areas” into the landscape. A grassy space adjacent to the pool is the perfect spot for lawn games. A boxwood hedge frames the outside bar area, creating what feels like an outdoor room. Atop the Terra-Stone exposed aggregate pool decking, neutral Restoration Hardware lounge chairs invite relaxation.
Seasonal gardens add visual interest and help to frame the pool and patio areas. Papich incorporated a mix of forms-like structured boxwood hedges and crisp, rectangular lawn panels to contrast with the looser drifts of ornamental grasses, perennials and flowering shrubs—resulting in an appealing composition of architectural and natural shapes and textures. Grant Daley of Daley Landscape in Hingham brought Papich’s planting plans to life. New England Woodworkers built the fence elements, and Atlantic View Inc. installed the landscape lighting.
Condon reports that the family is thrilled with the transformation of their property. “Projects like these can really enhance and extend the use of a home,” she says. “It’s always gratifying to see families spending more quality time together in the great outdoors.”