Coastal Drama

from Landscape Solutions
This all-season patio combines a pool and a fireplace for outdoor recreation any time. See how the design uses a massive fireplace to shield an outdoor shower area.

Under ordinary circumstances, water and fire might clash, but on a poolside patio near the southern California coast, they’re a perfect pairing.
By night, the flames in a dramatic slate-covered fireplace flicker just a few feet from a swirling spa. By day, a striking fir-and-steel arbor shades the hearth, curving overhead like a great ocean wave. Tendrils of trumpet vine flow across the supports, rippling in the breeze like cascading water.

The arbor’s symbolism is definitely intentional. “The Preisendorfers are surfers,” says landscape architect Steve Adams, describing the family of four who lives in the home. “The design reflects their passion.” (It also reflects their business, Rusty, a company that makes surfboards and apparel.)

Adams created the fireplace and arbor as part of a total backyard overhaul. “The only thing we saved was the swimming pool, which was reshaped and resurfaced,” he says. In addition to a fireplace, the homeowners requested an outdoor kitchen and dining area, as well as a new spa and outdoor shower.

With space at a premium, Adams joined most of those requests in one 12 x 12-foot dining area, creating a contemporary, casual design to complement the Preisendorfers’ ranch-style home and their lifestyle. The fireplace and an adjoining kitchen — complete with a sink and grill — form two walls of the outdoor room. The new spa (a curved expansion to the pool) is also close at hand, giving soakers a view of the flickering hearth.

The outdoor shower is difficult to spot. Placed on the back side of the fireplace, it uses the hearth’s slate surround as the wall for the showerhead.
“It was the most logical arrangement,” Adams says. The massive hearth makes bathers invisible from the dining area, and bamboo panels offer privacy on the sides. Because the integrated plumbing runs close to the firebox and flue, a crackling fire in the hearth “might even warm the shower,” Adams says. It’s just one more example of how fire and water can coexist in a perfect balance.

To get the most from your outdoor fireplace, incorporate practical features such as built-in storage for wood and a gas starter to eliminate the need for newspaper (which increases ash and sparks). Add ledges in the firebox to hold adjustable grates, then you can grill everything from burgers to an entire turkey.

Eliminate the guess work and see what your house will look like before you redecorate.
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