These Bloomington homeowners’ wish list was simple – they love living outside, but the afternoon sun beat down on the back of the house, making it an uncomfortable space for entertaining. They also wanted native plantings between them and the neighbor along the edge of the property.

The design of this California-style ranch home is guided by a philosophy of seamless transition between interior and exterior. With simple lines, expansive windows, and several sliding doors opening onto the backyard this landscape was full of potential. Going forward, the design would have to seamlessly blend in with the existing architecture and take full advantage of the wooded backyard view.

Before: The afternoon sun beats down on the patio.

After: Shade for the new outdoor kitchen & dining room.

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Modern outdoor living room and dining patio

The dining patio includes a gas grill, an open flame Brazilian/Argentinian grill, a sink, and plenty of storage. The grill uses either wood or charcoal – homeowners’ choice, depending on what they are cooking. A crank on the right side of the grill raises/lowers the grill to adjust the heat above the flames or coals.

Expansive modern walk-out patio with dining area, fire table, and seating patio.

The modern fire pit uses natural gas and turns on with the flick of a switch – providing heat and light in an instant. Sparing no attention to detail, the bluestone on the outdoor kitchen matches the interior bluestone.

Outdoor kitchen under a modernist shade structure. Native yellow wildflowers in the background define the border between properties.

The native prairie garden on the hill just beyond the living space separates the backyard from the neighbor's property.

Outdoor dining room underneath a modern shade structure.

The shelter has an angled roof which matches the angle of the home's roof. The designer measured the pitch of the home’s roof to be sure the angles were an exact match. The homeowners’ tastes are on the modern side and they thought the simplicity and lines of the metal roof were the perfect touch to the outdoor living area.

Statement water feature created from a boulder, placed in a river of stone bordering the living patio.

Boulder Water feature in a stone riverbed

Nestled in a dry river bed, this custom boulder fountain makes a bold statement and creates a relaxing atmosphere with its gentle bubbling voice. The homeowners chose the boulder. After it was drilled, the designer had to create a basin to accommodate the weight of the boulder for the water feature. Large river rock surrounds the water feature’s basin. It matches the existing river rock around the house.

Sitting patio with large format pavers and a brick paver border.

A sunny Barrington paver patio with lounging couch, perfect for sipping iced tea or reading a pulpy novel on a summer afternoon is flanked on one side by a flowering container garden and on the other by a bubbling fountain.

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