A pergola-covered slate patio provides space for dining and relaxing.
A deck with a fire bowl seems to float on the adjacent waterway.
A picturesque waterfall spills into a spa that is separated from the pool by a fieldstone retaining wall.

By the Bay

A team of experts creates a waterside playground for family gatherings

By the Bay MAY/JUNE 2011

One February day, the clients whose home she’d been hired to remodel approached Annapolis architect Scarlett Breeding with a tall order: completely overhaul their waterfront property from the bottom up in time for a large family gathering over July Fourth, when they all expected to be floating in their new pool. “They had a fabulous waterfront,” says Breeding. “They wanted to create a big outdoor living space that they could use as a family compound.” The owners’ wish list included a new pool and pavilion, dock, outdoor kitchen, spas, water features, patios, retaining walls and more. In essence, they wanted a nine-month project completed in about half that time.

Breeding was up to the task. She quickly flipped the order of events, giving the property priority over the house. She then drew up plans to transform the rundown backyard, with its aged wooden bulkheads and in-ground liner pool, into a terraced, multi-level waterfront playground. She tapped Pyramid Builders as the contractor, while landscape architect Kevin Campion selected plantings and their placement and Walnut Hill Landscape Company took on the task of installing all the stonework and implementing the landscape plan. “The question was how fast we could put it together,” recalls Pyramid vice president Mark Sanders. “It was a full team effort with upwards of 60 people working day to day.” 

To make matters more complicated, waterfront restrictions dictated that the job be done in phases because not more than 5,000 square feet could be under construction at one time. “We worked from the water up to the house,” Sanders says. “We built retaining walls, then the pool, the patios and so on.”  

The finished space is an idyllic, multi-use retreat that capitalizes on sweeping water views. Slate patios and fieldstone retaining walls delineate zones for gathering, while a grassy play area has been set aside for kids and a sleek pool offers close-up views of the Chesapeake. An outdoor kitchen serves al fresco meals between the house and the pool.

Along with the stonework, Walnut Hill installed two spas with water features that feed into them. Plantings were used to differentiate gathering spaces. “We worked hand-in-hand with Kevin Campion on selecting plantings,” says Mike Prokopchak of Walnut Hill. They chose a lot of native grasses and perennials, including sweetbay magnolia, hydrangea, inkberry holly, hibiscus, Dallas Blues switchgrass along the water and a variety of cone flowers.

To everyone’s amazement, the family was indeed swimming by the Fourth of July. The project’s principal players all attest to the importance of teamwork in getting this monumental job done. “It took a really integrated team,” Breeding says. “The owners are so excited that they bought the property next door and have hired us to work together again!” 

Jay Stearns is principal of Landmarks Photography in Maryland.

ARCHITECTURE: SCARLETT BREEDING, AIA, Alt Breeding Schwarz Architects, Annapolis, Maryland. LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: KEVIN CAMPION, Campion Landscape Architecture, Annapolis, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: STEVE MICEK, Pyramid Builders, Annapolis, MD. LANDSCAPING & STONE WORK: MIKE PROKOPCHAK, ASLA, Walnut Hill Landscape Company, Annapolis, Maryland. LIGHTING & IRRIGATION: Terra Nova Design, Crofton, Maryland. POOL: Sunset Pool Contractors, LLC, Tracys Landing, Maryland. 

**Out of the array of interior design magazines, Home and Design magazine stands out as a primary idea source for luxury home designs and landscape design ideas.  Wonderful visuals of inspired décor and lush landscapes are combined with expert advice to provide a fundamental reference point for bringing amazing home interior design ideas, and outdoor spaces to life.