It’s probably fair to say that most new homeowners aren’t typically unpacking moving boxes while simultaneously designing their backyards. But that was pretty much the case when Kacey Anderson and Stephen Purtill purchased their home last year in Napa. After living in a San Francisco apartment for many years, they were ready to expand their living space to the outdoors.
“The exterior was the first big item because we bought the house so we could spend more time outside,” said Anderson. “It was one of the biggest draws to moving to Napa – the weather here is great pretty much year-round. Living in San Francisco, we were pretty much confined indoors because of weather, and not having any space we could use. We also felt like we would love our home even more if it reflected our personalities and style inside and out – so we wanted to get started with that as soon as we could.”
With little more than a citrus tree, a few shrubs and untouched dirt, the couple had their work cut out for them. Then, in the height of a designer search, they came across Yardzen’s Instagram. “We were obviously looking into landscape design companies, but when we met with some of them for initial consults we didn’t really get the sense that they used tangible things to better understand us and what we wanted,” says Anderson. “Plus, nobody offered the ability to share a digital or 3D rendering of what our end result might look like.”
Yardzen’s renderings allowed the visual couple to see the end result and make updates. Throughout the process they shared inspirational images, photos of their yard as well as a short chatty property tour video to provide more guidance. What’s more, said Anderson, it allowed she and Purtill to give input on their own time. “We could collaborate as a couple on ideas, images, and thoughts on our schedule, not that of a designer for in-home consults. Beyond this, we both work in tech fields and liked the idea of using a tech company for our own project as early adopters.”
Their wish list was driven by a low-maintenance yard with low-water plants. “We wanted a space to hang out together, drink wine, cook, and relax. We were motivated by our own love of clean lines, neutral colors, and natural materials,” says Anderson. “We landed on the design because we loved the use of the space to what made it feel like four or five separate areas all connected by an open concept – it was like having a whole open concept interior floorplan laid out in our yard.”
Now new concrete, pavers, artificial turf and gravel bring their space to life while creating natural boarders. Blooming Crepe Mrytles, which support local pollinators, line the fence along the dining table, creating a drape like effect. A Tuscany-inspired gravel (California Gold) adds warmth and texture. New and existing citrus trees fill corners and provide a lush backdrop with a subtle pop of yellow. A mix of low-water plants are tucked along walkways, filled with varieties of New Zealand Flax, Red Yucca, Blue Oat Grass and Aloe.
“We’re outside as much as we can now – often taking meetings and calls,” she says. “We eat dinner outside almost every night, and unwind in the hot tub every night,” noting the frequency in which they use the new space has inspired them to take on even more exterior projects. They’ll incorporate those design elements in phases, including possibly a pergola, raised beds, more furniture, a fountain, a spa deck, and more lighting, she says. “We’ll see them to fruition because we’re home all the time now, and we see how practical and functional adding these features can be. Next on the list is definitely a place to relax around a fire pit as the fall and winter months get closer.”