Sunken and Raised Spots Take Gardens Up a Notch

Keep in mind those sunken living areas of the 1960s, à la Austin Powers? The expression “love pit” comes to mind, hinting at the exotic, the close or the somewhat naughty, at least on the small and large screen. Think white leather sectionals and enormous slabs of glass for placing a martini glass. Oh, and also ultraplush shag carpeting.

Nowadays the mod sunken living room looks relegated to hotel lobbies and ski lodges; it isn’t usually inside our houses. But outside that space has its own own benefits. Even if you’ve got a 100 percent flat parcel of land, you can create excitement and energy in your garden by creating one or more levels.

Like a courtyard that gets its definition from the walls that surround it, a garden space that is lower than (or elevated above) the main grade increases instant cachet. It is set apart from the restof the

Outer space Landscape Architecture

Inside a sunken or elevated space, you’ve got an altogether different vantage point. Perhaps the layout focuses your focus, fostering intimate conversation. Or, even if the orientation is focused, you’ll see the borrowed landscape or like a bird’s-eye view of the garden.

Whenever the grade has been changed, despite one riser, the energetic is also changed. Here are a few smart ways designers have shifted the grade. I provide them an A-plus.

Step down it. In the bottom point of this narrow, steep backyard, there was lots of room for a patio. However, this is no ordinary patio. It is a dreamy destination for anyone who walks outside the back door.

The components are perfect. To begin with, the designer has done a superb job of dividing the slab into bands and squares, further defined by crushed stone. The treatment ensures good drainage and suggests a patterned carpet.

When you descend a few concrete steps to enter the underwater outdoor living room, you’re drawn to the generously scaled U-shape bench. Made from a sustainable wood, it adopts three borders of the patio and includes a gas fire bowl at its centre.

HT17ML could sit easily. Just add a few cushions and you’ve got a party.

Ziger/Snead Architects

Allow it to be grand. There is an obvious difference between the level of this home and the level of the garden. Instead of having a tiny porch with a few spindly steps just outside the master bedroom lovely sliding doors, the layout connects garden and home with a bold solution.

This garden is essentially elevated to fulfill the doorway. What could have been a tiny porch has been enlarged to a broad bluestone patio maintained by measures and a low wall.

I really admire how the flat cladding on the step risers and keeping wall echoes the home’s exterior finish. The addition of a planting margin round the terrace’s perimeter — and also the existence of large trees — underscores the importance of the new space.

The rest of the home can be seen from the elevated patio or enjoyed up close. All one has to do is descend the measures into the lower garden.

Samuel H. Williamson Associates

Be both functional and trendy. This endeavor is in Seattle, where I reside. I am particularly impressed with how in which the landscape architect has employed concrete runnels to link the upper and lower parts of this modern landscape. The runnels also help maintain storm water and transfer it throughout the property.

Together, plants (golden bamboo) and substances (poured concrete and stone) make a visual connection between the levels. A stairs physically connects the two spaces.

Viewed from above, the extended runnels draw on the eye outside this part toward the drama lawn, patio and outdoor gathering spaces. This sunken garden is well thought out and separate from the entry, although reachable from the home’s lower rooms.


Grab square footage for optimum use. A hidden wedge of land receives a major upgrade into an elegant underwater room, thanks to the low stucco wall that defines its own edge, and the freestanding stucco fireplace at its centre. The elevation of the fireplace resembles the elevation of an inner ceiling, implying roomlike proportions, so those who sit do not feel overwhelmed from the palm trees and buildings towering overhead.

The stained hardwood decking warms up this distance — and there’s lots of luxurious outdoor seats. Together, these components makes this sunken garden space feel as comfy as an indoor room.

Dufner Heighes Inc

Gain impact within an pocket-size nook. This wedge of distance supporting a city townhouse appears like a sculptural installation, thanks to the perfect placement of plants and furniture. This room may not be officially sunken, but when it’s viewed from above there’s the pleasant illusion of a change in caliber.

Tile floor creates a bold rhythm, while a trio of planters emphasizes each corner. Seating is aligned along the diagonal, creating a solid perspective. As pretty to look at as it is nice to sit and eat a meal on, the mint-green chairs — a Lutyens bench and two midcentury wire armchairs — is beautiful and lighthearted. The scalloped petal table appears like a flower from above.

Can you say “sweet retreat”?

California Home + Design

Float the patio. Just a subtle tier change was required to give the impression that this exterior seating area hovers above the rest of the garden.

The gorgeous cast-stone patio does exactly that, relying upon thick slabs to form the ground, including a cutout niche to accommodate a nearby tree.

The modern cut-stone fireplace wall is the focal point, with all the furniture oriented around the heat source. Teak armchairs, piled with deep, comfy cushions, add a natural counterpoint to the metal and stone utilized everywhere. Step into this room and escape the world’s distractions.

environmental notion

Make the lawn sunken. 2 “area rugs” of lush, green bud feel like sunken, personal rooms. The general effect may be a hint of the eye (trompe l’oeil) created by the trimmed boxwood that defines and frames every carpet of grass. Notice how the boxwood balls punctuate the doorways and make the visual feeling of entering a sunken space.

The elevated fire pit at the middle of the pathway is sudden, changing the levels used everywhere within this setting. Altogether pleasing, these spaces are private and inviting.

Hugh Jefferson Randolph Architects

Create subtle alterations. One step up is all it takes to give increased significance to this outdoor pavilion. The “floor” is really a low deck, placed above grade like a floating raft. The solid brick fireplace wall anchors the room, while the soaring, futuristic rooflines reinforce the sense of separateness.

The sides of this structure could possibly be open to the remainder of the garden, but the psychological mood produced by the horizontal and vertical lines makes it seem personal and apart.

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