Home & Design

In full swing—Landscape Architecture: Anthony Cusat, PLA, McHale Landscape Design. Photo: Bob Narod

Show Power—Design: GTM Architects. Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Light a fire—Landscape Architecture: Jordan Loch Crabtree, ASLA, LOCH Collective. Photo: Mason Summers

Take a Dive—Landscape Architecture: Kevin Kurdziolek, PLA, ASLA; Steve Waldron, Pristine Acres.

Movie night—Landscape Architecture: Chad Talton, PLA, Surrounds, Inc. Photo: Morgan Howarth

Reap a harvest—Kate Mitchell, Love & Carrots. Photo: Matt Ramsey

Fountain of Youth—Landscape Design: Don Gwiz, Lewis Aquatech. Photo: Morgan Howarth

Upon on the Roof— Builder: Gibson Builders. Photo: Bob Narod

Cook out—Architecture & Contracting: Winn Design + Build Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Dining under the stars—Landscape Architecture: Ryan Moody, Moody Graham. Photo: Allen Russ

Top 10 Ideas for Luxury al Fresco Living

Relaxation outdoors is a balm for weary souls. “Time in gardens and exposure to the non-rhythmic movement of water, clouds and grasses decreases stress, improves cognitive ability, restores attention—and generally makes us healthier and happier humans,” contends landscape architect Ryan Moody of Moody Graham. He and other landscape architects and designers are working hard to meet rising client demand for outdoor upgrades.

Below, we cover 10 great ideas for inspiration.

Reserving space for a generous table makes hosting outdoor soirées a breeze. The courtyard of a new Arlington home is defined by a cedar-slat fence and a poured-concrete wall. Lush shrubs and perennials soften the hardscape. Architecture: Resolution: 4 Architecture. Landscape Architecture: Ryan Moody, Moody Graham. Landscape Contractor: Oldetowne Landscape Architects. Builder: MK Development. 

A swing arbor creates a serene spot for unwinding on a one-acre McLean property overhauled by Anthony Cusat, PLA, of McHale Landscape Design. As he asserts, “There are many therapeutic benefits to using a swing. Slow, rocking motion can reduce stress, calm one’s breathing and bring the heart rate down.”

Outdoor showers let bathers forge a strong connection with nature. Architect Mark Kaufman, AIA, of GTM Architects integrated an outdoor shower into his design of a modern Bethesda pool house. Stone walls and sapele mahogany panels reinforce the organic vibe. Builder: JEFFCO Development. Landscape Contractor: Landscape Projects. 

“Gathering around a fire provides the chance to disconnect from the world with those who care about you,” says landscape architect Jordan Loch Crabtree, ASLA, of LOCH Collective. On the grounds of a custom waterfront property he designed near Easton, Maryland, Loch installed a fire pit on a bluestone pool terrace enveloped in native grasses. Architecture: Martins Grehl Architects. Builder: ThinkMakeBuild. 

Today’s home-fitness craze has fueled a demand for lap pools. McLean clients tapped Kevin Kurdziolek, PLA, ASLA, and Steve Waldron of Pristine Acres to integrate a 73-foot-long, three-sided infinity-edge pool into a slope in their backyard. Their design includes a lounge deck, multiple retaining walls and lush garden areas. Architecture: WCRA. Builder: Brush Arbor Homes.

An outdoor screen is front and center in the covered, stone-and-ipe structure that landscape architect Chad Talton, PLA, of Surrounds, Inc., designed in a client’s compact DC yard. “Almost every space we build contains an outdoor TV because people love to gather and watch with friends,” he reports.

Tending a vegetable garden not only supplies healthy ingredients, but also “a great sense of accomplishment in growing your own food from seed to table,” says Kate Mitchell of Love & Carrots. The DC company, which helps residential and business clients nurture their own crops, maintains a Vienna garden where tomatoes, eggplant, beans, peas and carrots thrive.

“Seeing or hearing the soothing sound of water induces relaxation,” says Don Gwiz of Lewis Aquatech, who updated a client’s Potomac property with a stone water feature that overflows into a pool. A profusion of flowers and greenery adds color and texture.

Roof gardens take advantage of surplus outdoor space—often with a view. A DC homeowner created a private aerie complete with teak decking; planters full of  seagrass conceal speakers for music. It’s the perfect haven for yoga, meditation and entertaining. Builder: Gibson Homes, LLC. 

Bringing a kitchen with all the bells and whistles outside is the ultimate backyard luxury (aside from hiring a caterer). In a Vienna home, Michael Winn and Jimmy Finn, AIA, of Winn Design + Build created a screened-porch kitchen that boasts a grill and hood, two refrigerators, an icemaker and stainless-steel Danver cabinetry.

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