A standout shade structure anchors this elegant outdoor space designed for lounging with family and entertaining friends
A young family of three wanted a backyard that could meet its outdoor living needs and better suit its lifestyle — as well as offer a cooling respite from the Arizona heat. “When we were brought in on the project, the backyard was nothing but grass and some perimeter trees,” designer Kaitlyn Wolfe says.
Wolfe and her team at Iconic Design+Build worked with the homeowners to reimagine the yard and outfit it with a new pool, an outdoor kitchen, a fire feature, a lounge and a dining area — elements that would enable them to relax at home with family and friends.
Photos by Kevin Brost
Patio at a Glance Who lives here: A family of three, with another child on the way Location: Arcadia, Arizona Size: 5,000-square-foot (464-square-meter) backyard; 100 feet long by 50 feet wide Designer:Iconic Design+Build Contractor: Unique Landscapes and Custom Pools
“Our client showed us inspiration photos early on of spaces that felt like a resort, with modern features such as ceiling-suspended sofas, outdoor draperies, glass enclosures around the pool and simplistic hard surfaces,” Wolfe says. From there, the design team balanced clean lines with a range of textures to develop a space with a modern feel.
Given Arizona’s climate, shade played an important role in creating a comfortable, inviting and stylish outdoor space. For that reason, the main outdoor living zone sits under a wood pergola roughly 30 by 22 feet.
A performance fabric in a natural hue drapes across the structure, helping to block the hot desert sun while creating a relaxing, stylish vibe. The fabric panels are attached to pipes running across the pergola to stay in place, even on blustery days. Misters add another cooling element.
A new gas fireplace and built-in wraparound bench anchor one end of the patio. The bench base is classic painted white brick. “The soft curves of the stucco fireplace and [its] herringbone interior provide a nod to the Southwest while remaining simple and modern,” Wolfe says.
Striped black-and-white cushions sit atop the benches and create an outdoor color scheme that repeats throughout the design.
To the left of the fireplace, the bench extends to create an L-shaped seating area with a low coffee table and poufs (which the designer envisioned the kids using for eating and playing). “Within the design, we have everything from concrete to rattan to wood and rope,” Wolfe says. “The space feels comfortable, complete and versatile.”
A new outdoor kitchen frames another edge of the patio, just behind the outdoor dining table. The linear design includes asink, an ice maker, refrigerator drawers and a grill. The base material is the same painted brick as the fire feature and built-in bench.
The patio floor throughout the project is large-format porcelain paving. The uniform cool gray tone adds to the resort-style vibe the homeowners wanted without dominating the design. It also allows the items that look more handmade, such as the painted brick and stucco fireplace, to stand out.
The paving’s durability played an important role in its selection. It’s slip-resistant, nonporous and moisture-resistant, Wolfe says, and it also resists mold and is easy to clean.
The team used the same material for the countertops and high backsplash as they did for the paving. “This allows cohesion throughout the space,” Wolfe says. A matte black faucet rounds out the design.
Across from the pergola, a covered patio next to the house gives the homeowners another shady spot forsitting and relaxing. They carried the same pavers from the pergola area to this area, creating a smooth transition between spaces. A tongue-and-groove wood ceiling warms up the area and ties in with the pergola’s wood posts.
The seating arrangement features a cushy outdoor sofa, woven lounge chairs and a fire feature table, continuing the feeling of being at a poolside resort. “We selected pieces that are comfortable, durable and unique. We focused on high-end fabrics and texture,” Wolfe says.
Overhead basket lighting in different sizes and heights illuminate the space at night and add interest during the day. The yard features a sprinkling of landscape lighting.
A hanging basket chair nestles into the corner of the seating area.
The new pool and spa in a rectangle shape add elegance and interest to the backyard. A dark blue tile encircles the pool and hot tub, outlining the feature and contrasting with the yard’s mostly neutral tones. “We chose a beautiful hand-painted tile for the spillover between the pool and the spa, which really becomes the standout feature of this pool,” Wolfe says.
A ficus hedge screens the perimeter of the yard, adding privacy and softening the yard’s boundaries.
A glass fence encloses the pool area, blending into the background while functioning as an important safety barrier. “This allows for the family to ensure they’re keeping a safe environment for kids, yet it adds to the aesthetic and elevates the entire space,” Wolfe says.
Here you can also see where the artificial turf meets porcelain pavers, the yard’s two main ground materials. “We collectively chose artificial turf for this project due to its low maintenance,” Wolfe says. It also gives kids and pets a soft place for playing that doesn’t require watering.
The team also added an outdoor shower for cooling off on a hot day or a rinse after going in the pool. “We kept it very simple by continuing the same paver up the wall,” Wolfe says. An exposed shower system in the same finish as the outdoor kitchen fixtures adds contrast and interest.