A palatial home and a backyard begging for love – this is the situation we encountered when we were contacted by a client in Chesterfield, Missouri.
Our clients, two doctors who immigrated to the United States and are now raising their family in one of the new housing developments off of Wild Horse Creek Rd, have a backyard that was entirely turf. They love being outdoors and entertaining, but they had no patio or landscaping.
So, after seeing our trucks at another one of our projects in their neighborhood, they reached out to us to see what was possible. And we were happy to oblige.
Understanding the clients’ needs
At our on-site consultation at their home, we discussed their motivations for transforming the space. Being avid chefs was one of the first things that came up in the conversation – cooking is primal to them and they loved the idea of an outdoor kitchen, replete with bar seating to entertain their guests as they grilled a steak.
But not only that: they wanted enough space to dine outdoors, and they wanted to create a space where they could build a fire and have their doctor friends over to unwind and relax after their 12-hour (or more!) days.
Lastly, they needed a future landscaping plan around this new backyard space that would just be the icing on the cake.
A detailed site inspection and brainstorming
After sending a bullet-point summary of our meeting to our new clients, we got to work.
We took thorough measurements: not just of the dimensions of the backyard and home, but also of the changes in grade and its subtle elevation shifts.
We took several dozen photos to ensure we captured every detail, such as where the irrigation pop-ups were located and where the utilities lay, and started brainstorming possibilities not previously discussed.
We took notes, gathered the details and headed back to the office where we drew up a design.
The result? A courtyard retreat that is the envy of their Chesterfield neighbors.
The focal point: an outdoor kitchen
Our design was focused on our clients’ main desire: an outdoor kitchen. We started by building an L-shaped kitchen, with one side boasting a cook-height countertop and the other a dual cook-height/bar-height countertop.
The kitchen was fully masoned with natural, thin-cut Rockport stone, which is an off-white stone with blue-grays peppered in. This thin-cut stone gives our kitchen an edge over those that are fashioned out of manufactured stone.
To really make the kitchen stand out, we used a polished, natural black cobalt countertop to create a stunning black-on-white contrast.
And then we got down to brass tacks. We outfitted the kitchen with fully-warrantied appliances, including a premier-series RCS grill, a UL-rated fridge that can withstand the elements, a fully-enclosed three-drawer compartment, and, lastly, a pull-out trash drawer (because who wants to go inside to throw things away?)
A firepit for natural light and warmth
Beyond the kitchen, our design included a natural gas firepit. Using the same thin-cut Rockport stone as the kitchen, we constructed one of our custom rectilinear firepits powered by natural gas that, with the simple flip of a switch, ignites and creates a blaze of warmth for everyone sitting around it.
Here, the devil is in the (underground) detail: we made sure to build a plumbing system that ran from the home to the firepit that met all St Louis County codes.
A “courtyard” feel
But what really makes the entire space dynamic is the “courtyard” feel of the design. This effect was achieved by enclosing the whole area with a seating wall.
Built with charcoal-colored wall block (to match the black cobalt countertops) and white wall caps (to match the Rockport thin-cut stone), the wall wraps around the entire patio space in a rectilinear fashion, lending a contemporary feel to the overall design.
Wall lights were installed underneath the wall caps to illuminate the space so it can be enjoyed at night too.
More details: we installed a narrow channel that lined the seating walls and filled it with decorative rock. Not only does it look great, it also serves the very pragmatic role of proper water drainage for the entire patio.
We also helped fuel the dynamic nature of the space by using different Belgard pavers for each of the spaces: a moonlight-colored Belgian cobble shape, reminiscent of Europe, to mark off the kitchen and firepit areas, and a gray-black Belgard paver called Rio to set off the main dining area. Here, the contrasting textures and colors act as “rugs” that differentiate the areas and make them feel like their own unique outdoor room.
The end result? Happy customers!
To say the least, the client was “wowed” by the end result! Just as importantly, they gushed about how the project was completed.
They couldn’t say enough about the communication between the project manager, the designer, and themselves to resolve any issues that came up.
It was a smooth operation, they said, and they have already started talking about it to their Chesterfield friends and neighbors.
It’s such a great little neighborhood that they are in – one that has young families and is growing – and we are excited that we get to be a part of that next chapter.