This pretty and practical outdoor area features style, form and function that wow.
Get this landscape architect’s tips for a pretty and practical outdoor area with style, form and function that wow.
Sean envisioned an “outdoor living room” that was highly structured yet still casual, with three options for enjoying the outside:
a semicovered pergola, an exposed stone terrace and a fully covered screened porch or sunroom. CASUAL CHIC. In the sunroom, Sean likes to keep it casual and unfussy, with classic décor in calming colors.
When you design the landscape for your home, the designs you implement will be the backdrop for your memories— all the birthdays, holiday celebrations and get-togethers will play out on the hearth and grounds you create for your family.
No one understands this better than Sean Papich, owner of Sean Papich Landscape Architecture. He, with his interior decorator wife, Tami, purchased a home in Hingham, Massachusetts, and quickly realized that they needed to level the existing house to build a new Cape Cod-style home and redo the landscape. “The property was in very marginal shape,” Sean recounts. “It was overgrown and dated.”
As a landscape architect, Sean had a unique vision for the property. “I wanted the garden to be a bit of a testing ground for plantings and hardscape materials, while still maintaining cohesion and fitting the home’s architectural style.”
THE DESIGNER’S DILEMMA
As an expert approaching his own home, Sean was aware of the common pitfalls. “It can be challenging for designers to work on their own estates,” he says. “The world is filled with
|ABOVE| GARDEN TO TABLE. One of the benefits of being a landscape architect? Being able to use flowers and plants from your grounds for garden-to-table displays. “Tami cuts flowers all the time to use inside or on the porch or the table,” Sean says. |BELOW RIGHT| EASY-CARE PLANTS. Sean picked these lovely Anthony Waterer Spirea shrubs for their robust strength.
architects and landscape architects whose properties are in shambles with half-done projects because the plans might be too lofty for the budget or they don’t have time with their busy schedules.” But, he adds, “Tami would not put up with a half-done project! Like me, she grew up in Iowa, and there is always a strong work ethic to get a project completed.” So when it came to creating a functional landscape that paired well with the house while also adding to the overall aesthetic, Sean knew just what to do.
AN OUTDOOR LIVING ROOM
Sean envisioned an “outdoor living room” that was highly structured yet still casual with three options for enjoying the outside: a semicovered pergola, an exposed stone terrace and a fully covered screened porch or sunroom. He regraded the backyard to achieve a flatter area and then got to work on a pergola and terrace design, complete with a New England fieldstone fireplace and an earthy chandelier from a vintage home furnishings store. He added a filtered screen to the rear side of the terrace to make visitors more comfortable because, as Sean explains, “it faces Hingham’s Main Street. Eleanor Roosevelt once called Hingham’s Main Street the most beautiful main street in America. It may be … but it also needs to be screened from my backyard!” A mix of materials—brick in a herringbone pattern, bluestone and wood—combine beautifully while not overpowering the space’s proportions.
FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT
Sean also orchestrated natural elements into the constructed area, allowing guests to enjoy nature up close, epitomized by the Five-Leaf Akebia vine climbing up the wall and Annabelle Hydrangeas growing underneath the pergola. When it came to selecting the plants for his property, Sean says “Like with most planting design, I study the solar orientation first.” He explains, “I look at the structure, flowering color, foliage texture and color. We tend to design with the most ‘bullet-proof’ plants we can.”
The outdoor area is flexible, making for great entertaining options. If Sean and Tami want to host a dinner for as many as 16 people, they will set the table under the pergola and dine with a crackling fire. The screened-in porch also allows guests to hang out while dinner is being prepared. If the party is smaller, they put the Adirondack chairs and other seating around the fireplace and set up a bar.
A screened-in porch gives that inside yet outside feel and provides another area for hospitality. There was one must on Sean’s list. He says, “I grew up swinging on a porch swing. I spent countless nights on my grandma and grandpa’s porch swing in Iowa, looking over the cornfield at sunset. I treasure those memories and wanted to see if I could recapture them for our kids.”The sunroom also acts as a throughway for guests accessing the terraces. It’s a stylistic transition between the indoors and out, allowing guests to enjoy the causal, earthy New England décor of the sunroom before stepping into the fresh air.
|ABOVE| STUNNING STONE. With an open terrace and a semicovered pergola, this area is ideal for hosting. The bluestone on the open terrace features a rectangular, running bond pattern and thermal finish. The layout of the stones contrasts with the brick’s herringbone pattern underneath the pergola. |BELOW RIGHT| FINE DINING. This is an example of a dinnertime setting for Sean and Tami’s guests. The clear glass vessels and white bowls and plates fit the neutral color scheme in the semicovered pergola. Sean opted for a soothing color palette for the pergola because “we did not want to over-stimulate the space.”
|ABOVE LEFT| PAINTING WITH FLOWERS.
“Blue is such a natural fit for a coastal home,” Andrew says. “Varying shades can be seen throughout the house, and
it makes each room feel unique.”
When it comes to landscaping his grounds, Sean “tends to incorporate plants into masses, like an artist’s brushstrokes on a canvas. We also like plants with multiple seasonal appeal and a variety of textures, as well as a cycling of colors throughout the seasons,” he says. Sean maintains you can create the garden you want in any conditions. These photos show how his carefully chosen flowers were in full bloom and thriving amid one of Boston’s worst droughts.
|LEFT| CLASSIC NEW ENGLAND. The picket fence was chosen to give some separation from the street and help achieve a New England aesthetic.
POWER PLANTS. Sean describes his landscaping as “muscled-up, new American garden style,” epitomized by larger drifts of hardy perennials, shrubs and ornamental grasses, along with some architectural structures.