Small Space Maxed Out: Bellaire Residence
Last month our featured project was a side yard in the Mueller Development in Austin, TX. It was our smallest-sized project to date. The clients were looking to address the slope and swath of decomposed granite so that there is a comfortable lounge area, dining area, and thoughtful low-maintenance planting, all screened from the very public (and friendly) neighbors in the Mueller Development.
We strategically placed clumping bamboo (never use running bamboo!) to block certain views while leaving others open to give passers by a peek into the maxed out space. From the outside, you really can’t tell there’s so much going on inside the fence. We didn’t want to completely envelop the dining area with bamboo or there would not be enough circulation to get around a dining table.
There’s also a sitting space that faces the back french door and small porch. We designed a custom bench of massaranduba hardwood that allows for both reclining while watching their toddler, or for multiple guests to find seating when entertaining a group. A small steel planter with drought-tolerant vegetation and step indicate transition and threshold from dining to seating areas.
We decided to block one of the gates since the clients only used one, and it was such a small space anyways, that walking around to the back of the house was not that much of a in imposition. The gate that we were keeping access to steps onto a small massaranduba deck, which at this scale is really a boardwalk. This provides a sturdy cooking surface for their new grill, and is flanked by a wispy palo verde (a thornless retama).
All of the vegetation was selected with the client’s small child in mind. Since Matt and I have two small kids under age four, we have a good idea of how Littles like to use a space, so there’s nothing pokey or poisonous. The patios are essentially a playground unto themselves if you get a bucket and shovel. And sitting in the space and listening to the wind rustle the bamboo adds another layer of experience for young ears, one that is not often considered within the city limits. This space is a peaceful, modern oasis in a very dense neighborhood.