Outdoor Living 3

The Benefits of Creating an Outdoor Haven

Faced with the impending reality of living with three teenage girls—one daughter already there, and two others not far behind—Neil and Angie Cole debated how to cope with the size of their house. They talked about adding another bedroom or creating additional living space, but their River Rim home’s footprint didn’t allow for much expansion.

Their thoughts quickly turned to their long, narrow backyard area that didn’t get much use. The Coles decided to create an outdoor living space the entire family could enjoy. Soon, the ideas began to flow.

The Coles called in Jarrod Levin of Aspen Landscape Development to help them put their wishes into a plan that would match their budget. They hoped to create a space the teens would enjoy, to incorporate their unique setting—a large nature-scape common area beyond their half-height fence—and to expand their room for entertaining.

“When we can begin with the design, we have a starting place for making budget choices,” says Levin, who was glad to work with a family that understood the design process.

To the Coles, the work seemed daunting. Yet, once the yard was leveled, they began to envision the finished product. Work began in the Fall of 2015 and was completed in July of 2016—with a long hiatus to work around our Central Oregon Winter.

“Jarrod helps people see the possibilities by adding in new ideas,” says Angie Cole. “He knows what can happen in the space.”

The result is a paver patio the width of the home and running almost to the fence-line. It is broken up into three main spaces: hot tub, fire pit and outdoor kitchen. The fire pit and conversation area provides a beautiful scene through the trio of dining room windows. The blue, green and tan accent pieces mirror the colors of the landscape and sky beyond. Even in winter, the gas fireplace warms the soul while the family enjoys a meal inside.

Movement from one area to another is seamless, including no level changes to complicate the path. Transition areas include a small space for two chairs and an end table between the hot tub and the fire pit, and a large dining table between the fire pit and the outdoor kitchen. Mixing built-in pieces with moveable furnishings makes transforming from intimate family gatherings to large-scale entertaining a breeze. Levin even surprised Angie Cole by designing bonus storage areas under the benches.

“It’s as if we added 2,000 square feet of living space to our house,” notes Neil Cole.

The outdoor kitchen was Levin’s idea. While the Coles didn’t think it was possible inside the constraints of the budget and layout, it was completed with a gas grill, gas burner, refrigerator, and kegerator. This kitchen design could scale up in cost through use of custom materials and high-end appliances. Here, off-the-shelf blocks and lumber, as well as quality mid-range appliances kept the project on target budget-wise.

“By choosing standard paving components as opposed to custom pieces, and by being selective in the choice of appliances, we were able to include the kitchen/bar build,” explains Levin.

Using neutral paver material allows the eye to move uninterrupted to the neighborhood common area beyond the fence, visually enlarging the Cole’s backyard. Color pops—no matter what the season brings —adding interest and helping to define the fire pit space.

According to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the Coles can expect up to a 130% return on their patio transformation investment, whereas adding a fifth bedroom to their 2,300 square foot home might have made resale more difficult. Statistics from our local real estate Multiple Listing Service show the average five bedroom home in Bend to be nearly 1,000 square feet larger than the Coles’ home.

The payoff for the home’s current inhabitants was immediate, however. The hot tub gets year-round use, they’ve upped the ante on entertaining by doubling their invite capacity, and the teenagers enjoy the ability to separate from the crowd. Neil and Angie Cole believe watching their girls grab their favorite books and gravitate to the cozy fire pit seating to read is priceless.