Backyard Makeover: This Overgrown Yard Gets a Contemporary Refresh

A contemporary backyard design makes a once-neglected Paul Thiry home shine

By Lauren Mang April 17, 2014

0514outdoorliving1_0


This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue of Seattle Magazine.

“Have you seen Grey Gardens?” It’s the first thing Seattle magazine arts and culture editor Brangien Davis says when describing the grounds that once surrounded her Denny Blaine dwelling. The reference to the famous documentary set in a decaying manse with an overgrown garden is spot on. When Davis and her husband, Daniel Spils, bought the house, designed by Seattle’s renowned modernist architect Paul Thiry, the 1939 home and its yard had suffered years of neglect. “We did an initial whacking back of the brambles,” she says, “and when that revealed how much yard we had, we realized we needed help figuring out what to do with it.”

Prentis Hale, principal of Shed Architecture & Design (206.320.8700; shedbuilt.com), presented the couple with a contemporary design, one that played off of the home’s International Style—simple form, clean lines and a flat roof—and gave them everything they had sought in a backyard, including a grassy area for games (they’re badminton fans), a small garden bed, plenty of patio space for outdoor dining and a fire pit. “We wanted to both contrast and cozy up to the existing house,” Hale says. The long concrete wall on the south edge affords ample privacy—not to mention a perfect perch for the two felines of the house—yet is short enough for chats with neighbors. “My favorite part,” Davis says, “is that it basically doubles our living space in the summer. The house is small, but the wraparound patio and floating bench at the far corner of the yard make it feel expansive.”

After: “Concrete was used to create a strong and smooth wall that defined the south edge of the yard while setting off the brick of the house,” architect Prentis Hale says. Garden design by Susan Papanikolas, of How Does Your Garden Grow. 

Before

Above: The contemporary backyard has ample patio space for outdoor dining and grassy areas made for lawn games

 

Join The Must List

Sign up and get Seattle's best events delivered to your inbox every week.

Follow Us

Cult Paint Brand Lick! Develops a Seattle Palette

Cult Paint Brand Lick! Develops a Seattle Palette

Hip paint brand describes Seattle’s color palette

You’d be forgiven if you thought the ideal color to describe Seattle is “gray” — at least for eight months of the year. That’s certainly not how paint brand Lick! sees it. The cult favorite home-décor brand chose Seattle as one of only five cities for its new collection of U.S. City Palettes — a…

Turning the Other Peak at Suncadia

Turning the Other Peak at Suncadia

SUNCADIA VACATION HOME REFLECTS FAMILY’S OUTDOOR ADVENTURES

Interrupting their travels to build a vacation home from scratch was the last thing on the minds of Sherri and Ali Anissipour in 2019 when they went on an anniversary holiday to Suncadia resort, located about 90 minutes east of their Seattle home. “We wanted to travel the world,” Sherri says, “not go to the…

From the inside out

From the inside out

INTERIOR DESIGNER ANNA POPOV DID NOT WANT TO WORK ON HER OWN HOME. THEN SHE FIGURED SHE COULD DO IT BETTER

Anna Popov never wanted to design her own house. An interior designer by trade, she didn’t want to put the amount of time, energy, and thought that she offers to her clients into designing her own home. She’d rather just find a place that checked all her boxes. But after two years of searching, nothing…

Publisher's Note: Can Our Architecture Make Us Better?

Publisher’s Note: Can Our Architecture Make Us Better?

Seattle's built environment reveals a lot about the city

With this issue’s focus on iconic Seattle architecture, we continue to drive awareness of the fact that Seattle is a world-class city, even if we ourselves may not know it yet. It’s been said that architecture stands as a representation of how we see ourselves, of how we see the world. At its most practical,…