Creating Space 5

See how a landscape architect and homeowner collaborate on a scheme to give a mid-century home’s backyard a much needed makeover.

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hen homeowners Tom Henritze and his wife moved into their mid-century home in the Arapahoe Acres neighborhood, they felt as though it was the “true glass box they had always dreamed of.” They knew they would make it more of their own as time when on, but didn’t want to rush the process.

Henritze explains, “We moved in, lived there for a year to understand the property, the light, the house and to be patient with the what the house and garden could become.”

Partnering with Ariel Gelman of Connect One Design, who shared the same vision of incorporating the outside with the inside, enabled them to give the entire property a very connected feel regardless of where you stood — inside or out.

With a ca. 1950 before yard including tall grass surrounded by pink concrete, Henritze and his wife found the backyard feeling “like a big empty space” instead of an extension of the house.

They came up with old materials seen throughout the neighborhood, like strip flagstone, and incorporated new materials, such as dark concrete and ipe wood, to give everything a modern and inviting feel.

Henritze adds, “We also took the entire yard down about 12 inches to make the house look like it was floating on the landscape, brought in new modern and structural grasses, planted some trees to accentuate the private spaces and very little grass. “

Three cherry trees offer a canopy of shade to sit under and take in a good book.

He goes on to say, “Ariel was very interested in creating spaces that grabbed your attention. Outside of the bedroom is a large planting of just one type of grass to provide a focused theme. In another part of the yard, we planted several different grasses to provide a layering of height, color and blooming time. It all goes to Ariel’s intent of providing focal points, privacy and making the yard feel much larger than it is. But not by planting hundreds of different plants, instead using very few to create a calming and simple, yet complex, environment.”

Fire & Water

Running the depth of the yard is a water feature you can hear throughout the house. (It actually runs under the deck to give the illusion it’s running through the house.)

Off to the side of the home, a bubbling water station creates a gentle ambient noise.

“We have a main fire pit directly off the patio, next to the dining/seating area that is flush with the patio that we gather around after dinner,” says Henritze. “Now it feels like a true extension of the house, where you can have a private conversation in one area, a dinner party in another, casual seating and sit around a fire pit late into the evening.”