Tucked among heritage oaks, this 1940s bungalow had a dream location, but the house and yard needed a little love. With a rental unit in the back, the owner saw room to improve the property for both themselves and their guests.
Inspired by Scandinavian home design, the owner turned to Yardzen to transform both their yard and home exterior into a stunning modern retreat. Being Austin and not Sweden, Denmark, or Finland, the design would need to be both stylish and water-wise. Being a rental property, it would also need separate zones to maintain privacy for the client and their guests when both were at home.
Take a look below to see how Yardzen achieved this client’s Nordic design vision.
A SOCIAL FRONT YARD FOR ANY OCCASION
The client’s top priority was to reimagine the underutilized front yard as a multi-functional space for lounging and entertaining. At the same time, they wanted to boost their curb appeal by giving the home and yard a modern makeover.
Yardzen focused first on the functions. To accommodate a variety of guest needs and group sizes, the design ideas settled on three highly functional zones: a dining room, a covered living room, and a sunken fire pit.
Each space has a distinct feel and offers different amenities. The lounge zone stands at the fancier end of the spectrum, shaded by a custom pergola supporting a large outdoor TV. The dining area opens itself to the air while remaining on the deck and conveniently close to the indoor kitchen. The sunken fire pit, with its crunchy gravel floor and wrap-around planting, offers a more rustic and intimate alternative to the other elevated spaces.
Wide, unobstructed edges separate each zone, allowing them to flow seamlessly into each other. The resulting impression is that of a single, highly adaptable social space, suitable for everything from family dinners, to large parties, to a moment alone with a book.
To ensure comfort and privacy from the neighbors, Yardzen threw in a fence along the property boundary, painted a muted charcoal to fade it into the background.
SCANDINAVIAN MODERN, TEXAS-STYLE
With functions in place, Yardzen next turned to style.
To nail the look for this modern house, the exterior architectural style applies a restrained palette of natural materials and bright wood with black and white accents to both the home and the landscape that is ubiquitous in Scandinavian interior design. This material repetition links the pergola and deck with the house exterior, a canny move that dissolves the boundary between indoor and outdoor and frames the deck area as an extension of the house.
Horizontal wood paneling climbing up the A-frame front facade and gable screams Scandinavian design. Following suit, the landscape adds a modern kick of its own via oversized concrete pavers, minimalist path lights, and a monolithic block of billowy grasses wrapping around the house.
Lest we forget this is Texas Hill Country and not a chalet in Norway , the design retains patches of shaggy, naturalistic planting, a nice organic foil to the crisp lines of the hardscape.
Yardzen next reimagined the backyard deck, an old and funky structure with multiple levels, ad hoc stairs, and weather-beaten wood.
Utilizing its existing frame, the design simplifies the deck, flattening it into a single level floor plan that offers immensely more usable space. It also extends the deck around the side of the house to join it with the front deck, creating a single shared surface wrapping three sides of the house. With this gesture, the front and back yards are linked into a single flowing experience.
Sticking with the modern Scandinavian style, a striking cable railing replaces the old wooden deck rail, maxing out the sense of openness and adding clean lines while maintaining a safe fall barrier.
With more deck area to play with, the design tucks an above-ground hot tub into a private corner near the back door, where the chilly walk back inside can be kept to a minimum.
PRIVATE SPACE FOR EVERYONE
Tall hedges help create privacy for the rental house
As a residential and rental property, the backyard needed to offer private, dedicated spaces for both the owner and visitors to the guest house, a two-story structure nestled at the back of the property.
A tall hedge of Southern Wax Myrtle does the trick, climbing high enough to block views from the back deck into the sunken guest yard. With attractive bark, a pleasant fragrance, and a tendency to attract birds and butterflies, this native shrub also brings a bit of natural beauty to liven up the spaces it divides.
A second fire pit offers guests something to do in their private outdoor space, while a shared patch of artificial turf offers a resource for visiting kids or pets in need of a romp.
Native Texas and low water plants were thoughtfully chosen for this landscape design
Beyond the native hedge, native grasses also feature heavily in this design, offering drought-tolerant beauty and excellent habitat for local fauna. Texas favorites Blue Grama and Little Bluestem command center stage, and are joined by a few key accents from Beargrass, a grass-like succulent with scraggly Austin charm.
Other climate adapted non-natives like the silvery Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ keep water demands low while reinforcing a cool-hued, texture-forward planting palette that runs throughout the design around this beautiful home.
GET STARTED WITH YOUR YARDZEN PROJECT TODAY
Yardzen’s award-winning online landscaping design is tailored to clients in all fifty states in the U.S.
Our design process begins with understanding your space, your aesthetic preferences, and a discussion of your budget and vision to minimize surprises when it comes time to build.
Our top-notch designers then develop a personalized vision for your yard, shared through 3D renderings, 2D plan drawings, and plant and material lists. Your design will capture the look, feel, and function you are hoping for, all while keeping costs within range.
Once your design is complete, we’ll help you connect with a local contractor from our Pro Network of vetted professional landscapers to install your new design.