Written by JenniferBegonia with Ann D’Astugues of The Red Chair
Photos by Dianne Ahto Graphicus 14
Here at the shore, outdoor spaces like backyards and decks offer a primary or secondary option for enjoying coastal sun and breezes—an easy alternative to time on the beach. Making the most of a home’s outdoor space creates an exceptional experience for family and friends, and can extend the usable area of a summer home by thousands of square feet.
When creating outdoor spaces—after setting a standard with a home’s interior design—it’s important to develop a look that complements and flows together for the best result. This was the goal described by Ann D’Astugues of The Red Chair for her efforts designing a gorgeous exterior backyard space for a client in Surf City on LBI: build on the visual story of the interior when moving outside.
Having already tackled the decks, Ann and her colleague, Sara Tool, worked closely with the home’s builder, Kevin Engleston, and Reynolds Landscaping, to help the client make choices for everything in the backyard: from the blue marble pavers to the porcelain pool tile to the custom-designed Western red cedar fences. The result is a natural-feeling, serene, and highly livable backyard entertainment area.
Where quarried stone had been used on the outside of the house, this material is again applied to build the outdoor kitchen island and bar, which also features a granite countertop and cabinetry in coordinating colors and finishes (with all cabinetry and built-ins by Handmade Furniture). The copper roof is picked up again throughout the yard with copper lantern lighting features.
Driftwood and fabric coloration from interior and deck pieces appear again outside with custom-ordered outdoor furniture and selected upholstery. The bar stools alongside the outdoor kitchen are made of teak, like the rest of the pieces that are set in different “vignettes” around the backyard space: a four-piece seating and conversation area and lounge chairs for sunning by the pool. Sunbrella® cushions and navy terrycloth upholstery along with custom sailcloth cushions for LBI-centric theming tie back to the indoor and deck looks.
The layout and design of the backyard space account for its multiple purposes for entertaining across generations. The fire pit runs on propane, and was specifically selected to be portable; keeping in mind the activity level of the teenage boys in the family, there’s room to move it and its corresponding seating to allow for pick-up basketball games on the same days the lava rocks glow at night.
As the central feature of the space, the pool provides a cooling influence. Sand-blasted blue marble pavers from walkways and patio areas throughout the yard also serve as coping around the pool, and the pool tiles coordinate with the more subtle coloration of the pool interior. (Rather than a “louder” Caribbean pool-club look with a bright turquoise pool interior, the client wanted a more serene spa feel.) All of the hardscaping elements tie in with the planted palette and shapes.
In her role as a designer, Ann describes her work as highly consultative. Here the process began when the client chose The Red Chair’s design mien as desirable based on visits to the storefront in Harvey Cedars. Throughout the interior design process for the main house, and later, moving into this backyard space, Ann explains that she and Sara created a responsive design plan based on a lot of questions and listening.
For example, in considering the look and sensibilities of the outdoor space, maintenance and the longevity of materials make up a large part of the discussion. For a scene set with more natural materials—like cedar fences instead of white plastic and real teak furniture instead of composite, as used in this design—the homeowners must have a more specific plan for maintenance, given how the woods will age over time. Input from the builder can be critical to this decision-making, so a symbiotic relationship between the designer and the “maker” helped the client’s dream backyard become reality today, with no maintenance surprises in store for the future.
Of working with Engleston, Ann describes this symbiosis, “If we dreamed it, he made it happen.” Their collaboration produced, in this case, a one-of-a-kind fencing solution that ties directly into the interior shapes and planes, and that will age to gray in harmony with interior wood surfaces. It’s these kinds of details that make the transition between indoor and outdoor feel seamless for people enjoying a perfectly designed summer home.