Category: Article:

Outdoor Yard Conversions
by Dr. Oneida Cramer

The water fountain, a bronze and stone sculpture set over a scalloped shell basin and encircled by water pool, cools off an outdoor corner nook that, although elegant today, was once a hidden repository for old tires and bicycles, according to Shirley Flabiano, A.S.I.D with SAS Interiors.

This outdoor hardscape conversion was completed in stages, beginning fifteen years ago, when Linda and Steve Ivy first enclosed their carport into a garage. Because the enclosure necessitated installing garage doors that would face the street front, Flabiano chose decorative louvered doors to complement the shutters in the second story windows.

?The garage actually looks like it could be a garden room or something like that,? Flabiano said. ?Of course, the drive way goes right up. But, we?ve added some planters and a trellis. We matched the front of the house. We put a little pediment?put columns on the side and some beautiful lights.?

Originally, the carport served as the main thorough a fare into the backyard. But once the carport had been enclosed, the garage became the primary access route to the back yard because of the front fence?a solid masonry structure.

?Everybody has a fence and dead space,? Flabiano said. ?Well, this fence was kind of a dump spot, where they stored things.? So, Flabiano had masons cut through the stucco fence and bring it together with an attractive rod iron gate. All the air conditioning equipment was also housed in that area; so, that had to be sectioned off. Then, they cleared away the junk and laid down slate tiles to form the pathway. Corinthian columns were placed along the border of the path along with several terraced garden vignettes on the side of the garage towards the back of the house.

After walking through a second old iron gate (purchased from Vanessa Stewarts Antiques) located behind the garage, people will enter an awning covered patio breezeway. Incidentally, the pedestrian garage door opening in the breezeway also has a louvered design to complement the shuttered garage doors in front of the house. The kitchen door, once a solid wooden door into the back of the house, has been replaced with a leaded glass to allow viewing of the garden from inside.

In fact, the breezeway is almost an outdoor room, itself, with several concrete benches surrounded by lantern scones, statuary, and generous planters. On the garage side of the breezeway has been painted a large mural of a figure in a softly draped gown holding up one hand for a perched bird. Behind the ballasted and behind the figure is painted a pastoral scene of grassy hills and small clumps of trees, a rather ironic contrast to the urban stucco canvas on which the mural was painted. Yet, the mural does forecast what lies before it?the beautiful breezeway and a palatial backyard behind that.

?What we?ve done to this is give someone pleasure when they come through and go into their homes,? Flabiano said. ?It also has become a place where you can actually set up tables and have a party?it?s that beautiful.?

So, the garden beyond the breezeway?s stucco wall extends into an array of different cultivated gardens, an arbor, and gazebo at one end of a large swimming pool. There is a cabana, a guesthouse, and a third fountain (the first fountain is found in the circular drive of the main entrance). Truly, the yard is a palatial setting that complements the scene painted in the mural and the paradise walk from the garage.

-by Dr. Oneida Cramer
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