Contemporary Patio Update for a Traditional, Cozy Cottage

The designers at Shades of Green Landscape Architecture had their work cut out for them in this revitalization of a small outdoor space for a cottage in Brisbane, California. With not much room to work, they created a great modern outdoor area to meet the homeowner’s wish for additional outdoor entertaining area.

Overall shot.

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Enclosed garden with feature walls with paving and gravel

The homeowners expressed the need to retain a useable driveway for a frequent out-of-town guest, but since the cottage sits on such a tiny lot, dedicating the driveway to be only a driveway meant that this space would not be efficiently utilized, nor used very often. Instead of the typical concrete pad driveway, the drive and side yard were replaced with concrete pavers surrounded by gravel. This allows these spaces to flow together and used as entertaining space when a car is not parked in the drive. Also, the use of gravel between concrete pavers, rather than a solid slab of concrete which causes excessive runoff, allows for water to infiltrate into the ground during heavy rains.

Front yard.

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Beautiful lounge area in backyard

In addition to the need for more outdoor entertaining space, the homeowners has a desire for low-maintenance plantings. Couple with the use of gravel between pavers, the front lawn was reduced to grass only between large stone pavers. This reduces the need to mow and water significantly. An outdoor fireplace and seating were also added to the front yard and surrounded with native plants that require little watering.


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Amazing potted plants

Corten planters were also added to the side yard to soften the space. Native plants fill these planters, allowing for greater ease in care as they are better suited to the location. The planters themselves, made of corten steel, are durable and naturally weather beautifully, making them low maintenance as well.


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Wood seating for outdoor

Traditional wooden outdoor furniture was added to match the style of the vintage cottage and allows for outdoor dining, as well as ample seating while entertaining guests. Bright red cushions create a bold contrast to the green of the lush vegetation, adding an extra burst of vitality to the space.


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Fence covering for a cotage

While all the features discussed this far make this a great outdoor space, the most notable design element is the fence that runs along the side of the property. With such a narrow space, the wooden fence served as a bland backdrop to the patio, constricting and confining the space. To soften this feeling, trellises were placed in front of the fence, alternating with cut-out metal panels. These panels add a touch of modern flare to the traditional cottage, transforming this bland fence line into a feature wall. The fence becomes worthy of being the main focus of the small space.


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Screen lighting

To further accentuate the metal panel feature wall, the panels are illuminated from behind at night. This illumination helps create drama and give the space a vibrant feel.

While there are several great ideas in this one space, the overall concept is tied together through the enlivened fence line. This outdoor renovation serves as a great example of how a small space can still make a big impact.{picture sources}.