Hillside Retreat

LAND O’ LAKES BACKYARD DESIGN

The Hillside Retreat was an outdoor living space designed and built for a newly married couple, customers Jaimee and Cindy. Upon meeting with Jaimee, I learned that his dilemma and the main variable I would have to contend with was a backyard with approximately six feet of elevation drop toward the house. This not only left the rear property unusable, but also created a severe drainage issue where rain would roll down their hillside and pool up against the house.

Jaimee’s initial goal was to create usable outdoor living space and solve his drainage crisis. But what we ended up with was an outdoor living space much more special than he anticipated.

I designed a custom deck and a screened-in pavilion that was built into the hillside. To construct this, our first step was to excavate the hillside and install a series of retaining walls. In addition, a French drain field was needed with approximately 10 tons of ¾” gravel and landscape fabric.

Then two custom decks were constructed. The lower deck is a larger open deck that abuts the home, then a four-riser staircase leads up to the upper deck. The upper deck is 14’ x 14’ and doubles as the floor for the screened-in pavilion.

The pavilion was wrapped with an 18” knee wall and has all the luxuries of a family room, including an outdoor television set, a refrigerator, blinds and an outdoor furniture set including a sofa, chairs, and a coffee table. The pavilion’s roof is sheathed with till and shingled to match the existing home.

One of the nice parts of being a designer who is also part of production is that while working on a jobsite, ideas can evolve and new ideas can arise, as did in this case. A hillside such as this is not an obstacle, but a great variable for creative design inspiration and expressions. Staring at this hillside for days during construction of the deck and pavilion, I could visualize water flowing down it, bringing energy toward the lower deck and home.

This idea led to the construction of a four-tiered pondless stone waterfall, which drops approximately 5 feet in a 20 foot span. In addition, a stone walkway encased in 6’ x 6’ wood timbers ascends to the left of the waterfall, and leads to a bluestone patio with a stone fire pit.

The project is nestled between two large oak trees and is completely landscaped with native Florida plants. In addition, there is a full outdoor lighting system installed to make the outdoor living space usable at night.

The entire outdoor living space was done in-house by myself and three other members of the Exterior Concepts team. My thanks to my crew for their time, strength and effort. Mostly my thanks to Jaimee and Cindy for allowing me the opportunity to add something to their new life together.

“Jaimee’s initial goal was to create usable outdoor living space and solve his drainage crisis in his Land o’ Lakes backyard. But what we ended up with was an outdoor living space much more special than he anticipated.”