Mike B.'s Back Yard + Office Remodel
Garage + Landscape Renovation in Portland, OR
An urban garden + adjacent writer's studio replace an underused back yard in Portland's Laurelhurst neighborhood.
We designed a multi-purpose outdoor space that would look good in all seasons, with materials that weather well. A cast-in-place paving scheme creates zones for a barbecue grill, a cedar soaking tub, a fire pit, and dining area. A maple tree forms the focal point and will grow to shade the yard. The garage conversion came into being midway through construction: it was intended as a garage remodel, but Mike liked the building too much to sacrifice it for parking.
Cast in place
Cast-in-place concrete is tricky and the site had its quirks. We had to work around tree root structures, respect the property lines of 4 neighbors, and ensure adequate drainage via a system of perforated PVC pipes and a dry well.
Moss + mint
Scotch moss + fragrant Corsican mint between the pavers break up the geometry, softening the landscape both visually and underfoot. In places where it doesn't make sense to have the heavy scent and moss (under the dining table, for example), the greenery transitions to gravel.
Concrete + Cor-Ten
A board-formed concrete fire pit + planters are built to last. The fire pit's custom weep holes are capped with Cor-Ten steel. These will rust over time and create a patina, adding another layer of texture to the landscape.
Good neighbors make good fences
A staggered-pattern 7-foot-tall cedar fence is sheathed on both sides. This maximizes privacy and also affords neighbors the same beautiful fence, per our generous client's wishes.
We designed a stand-up desk for Mike. Other custom pieces include tables made from wood slabs brought from his family home in Hawaii. All furniture was designed by Michael Howells and fabricated by The Joinery.