PRETTY PORCHES & PATIOS

 

In fall, porches and patios beckon us outside for football, family, and fun.

 

When Tyler and Rachel Stone purchased their Hollywood home in 2008, they were content to live with the large back yard, which featured a standard liner pool and a wooden deck. But after several years of living in the house, they decided the outdoor space needed a renovation to better suit their family’s changing needs.

In 2012, the Stones asked their friend and landscape architect, David Brush, of David N. Brush Landscape Architecture, to lead the project. “Tyler and Rachel asked me to create an environment that was comfortable for their family and that could also accommodate a lot of friends,” Brush recalls. “They are active people who like to entertain.”

The former layout of the yard was chopped into two disconnected areas, with one overgrown and of little use and the other with the pool that was a mere five feet deep. While Brush preserved a large stucco wall and expanded the existing deck, “we basically erased all the chalk off the board and created a new picture,” he says. Brush’s design created three distinct spaces in the back yard with the centerpiece being the refurbished pool with a tanning ledge and a hot tub. Brush selected Crab Orchard stone, a type of sand stone, for the patios, paths, and steps and a similar stone for veneer on the walls to maintain a cohesive look. “It was important to us to use the same type of stone that you see all over Homewood,” Rachel says. “From the old Highway 31 bridge over Lakeshore to the newer Homewood Park.” Cast iron was used for the railings for its durability.

Welcoming arm steps lead from the pool area to an upper terrace complete with cozy furniture, a fire pit, an outdoor TV, and clear sightlines so adults can relax and still keep an eye on kids hanging out in and around the pool. The wooden deck, off the back of the house, was expanded using treated lumber that was painted to match the existing wood. There is also an area beneath the deck where swimmers can escape the sun and a kitchen garden adjacent to the upper terrace.

When it came to selecting plants, Rachel’s main request was for low maintenance plants native to Alabama. Brush selected limelight hydrangeas, climbing roses, groomed cedars, and boxwoods shrubs to create a shield between the pool and upper entertaining area. “I didn’t want to be constantly pruning something that was too big for the space or have a plant that really shouldn’t grow in the South,” Rachel says. The result is sophisticated color and bloom that provides privacy but also enhances the beauty of the back yard. “Quality plants were selected at sizes that created an immediate impact but fit their spaces once they’ve fully matured,” Brush says.

The project was completed in 2013, and since then, the Stone’s back yard has become a prime spot for pool parties, watching fall football games, and other entertaining. “We absolutely love it,” Rachel says.

Forrest and Mendy Walden

Forrest and Mendy Walden built their house in the Mayfair area in 2013. “A screened porch was a must,” Mendy says. “We knew we wanted both a front and back porch. Our neighborhood is very front-porch oriented, so I wanted a place where I could watch the kids, but I love the back porch. It’s much quieter back there.”

The cozy screened porch is located off the family room at the back of the house. Two sets of French doors open from the family room onto the porch, which allow for easy circulation when the Waldens entertain. The ceiling of the porch was constructed from the rough-hewn beams of the original home’s roof. “They were about the only thing that could be salvaged because there was asbestos in the house,” Mendy says.

A large, brick wood-burning fireplace with a flat-screened TV mounted above are the focal points of the space. “We watch a lot of football games on the porch in the fall,” Mendy says. A farm table—built by Mendy’s father Steve Brannum—surrounded by a church pew and ladderback chairs provides a quiet spot for al fresco dinners for the Walden family. “We eat out here a lot in the spring and summer,” Mendy says.

The floors are scored concrete for easy maintenance, and a portable heater and two ceiling fans help when there are typical Alabama temperature swings. Party lights strung around the room add sparkle.

“We love our porches,” Mendy says. “Forrest and I use the screened porch for quiet time in the mornings. It’s truly used year round.”

Tim and Tammy Stone

In 2016, Tim and Tammy Stone decided to convert an underused, overgrown play area with a swing set in their back yard into a sophisticated patio space that would better fit their family, which includes two teenagers. “We wanted a place to hang out as a family, but also for the kids to entertain friends,” Tammy says. The raised patio area is centered on a gas fire pit surrounded by six Restoration Hardware chairs and two Acacia wood benches. There is also a connection for an outdoor TV where the Stone’s kids and their friends can watch football games or movies. “We watch lots of football in the fall,” Tammy says.

The real star of the space, however, is the Forno Toscano wood burning pizza oven, which was shipped from Italy and installed on site in one piece. “We have dinner out there a good bit when the weather is good,” Tammy says. “It’s mostly used when friends are over, but our family uses it quite a bit too. Tim makes a great peach crostata!”

Kellie Hulsey did the landscape design, and Creekside Building did the installation. “We saw it being used as a place to entertain over leisure dinners,” Tammy says. “We hang out and watch movies or football games. Both kids have friends over to hang out around the fire pit. It’s definitely a favorite hangout area when the kids have friends over.”