South Park Magazine

February 19, 2014

The Outdoor Living Space

Ken Pursley, Architect, Pursley Dixon Architecture

Charlotte architect Ken Pursley used plantings and the natural space to design a backyard living area that is both sophisticated and tranquil. The result? An outdoor area that is perfect for play for children and relaxation for adults. “We made the bluestone deep enough so that children can run around the pool without getting grass on their feet,” says Pursley. “It can’t all be about aesthetics!”

How were you able to create a sense of privacy within the outdoor living space?
“We worked with landscape architect Bruce Clodfelter to create green 'walls' to block out the neighboring properties. We wanted the feeling to be simple, yet natural.”

What design techniques work best for creating an outdoor living area that exudes a retreat-like feel such as this one?
“Let the space be the most important thing. The pool house, walls, fences, and plantings are all used to define an outdoor 'room'. If the backyard space is not clearly defined, the 'room' becomes choppy and amorphic. When possible, I also like to create multiple chambers in a design so there is always a sense of anticipation and surprise.”

Why does the minimal slate pavement surrounding the pool work well aesthetically?
By keeping grass around the pool, it makes the composition softer and the pool reads for like a pond. Particularly for a small yard like this one, the more living surfaces you can provide, the better.

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