A couple named Rick and Susan Ashcroft contacted Exterior Worlds back in the spring of 2000. They told us that they had always wanted a fireplace, but knew the winters in Houston were too mild to justify having one installed indoors. They asked us if we could build them an outdoor fireplace and a patio adjacent to their living room. The intent was to create a virtual extension of the living room centered on a warm element that would make chilly nights in the early spring, late autumn, and winter both comfortable and pleasant for gatherings and conversation.
We agreed with this plan wholeheartedly. Outdoor fireplaces like this are much more useful in temperate, humid climates. The warmth of a fire adds relief from both cold and humidity, and the structure of a fireplace is an ideal architectural compliment to the styles of many home builds. To create this type of centerpiece, however, we would have to build a special patio that would be reminiscent of interior architecture and also complimentary to outdoor landscaping. The best way to accomplish this was to place symmetrically square interlocking pavers in a pattern that mimicked that of indoor tile. This helped accentuate the feeling of a virtual living room, and it better blended with the stonework and vegetation in the surrounding landscape.
We built the outdoor fireplace completely out of natural stone, fitting each one together like pieces in a puzzle. The chimney was approximately 2 ½ times higher than the fireplace interior, and added a stately touch to the backdrop of the landscape. Two flanking columns, both slightly higher than the fireplace interior, were constructed on either side. This added an Old World sensibility to the structure that naturally drew the eye toward the logs that burned in its interior on cold nights. There was one more element, however, that we needed to add in order to make this elegant feature a truly year-round keynote and that was the element of concealed lighting. On nights too warm to light a fire, it was still possible to enjoy the illusion of fire by using these special luminaires to light the interior, the stones in the chimney, and the two flanking columns. This created a sublime interplay of firelight and stone that rose majestically into the night and provided the ideal gathering point for a summer dinner party or family gathering.
At the end of the patio opposite the outdoor fireplace, there was a drop-off of about 4 feet. Here, we built a stone staircase that connected the patio to a walkway that ran around the corner of the home to the natural swimming pool. Next to the steps, we built a stone wall that connected on both ends to the patio, giving us ample room for a planter populated with a number of indigenous plant species. We completed the project by planting an oak tree within this enclosure in order to give the patio future shade, and also to provide a place to mount an outdoor chandelier to fully magnify the sense of indoor living turned inside out.
If you are interested in any high-quality landscape services, Exterior Worlds has been providing the high-end residential landscape services and garden design services discussed above for the Houston and the surrounding areas including memorial villages (Piney Point Village, Bunker Hill Village, Hunter Creek Village), Tanglewood, River Oaks, West University and the greater Houston (Hou), area since 1987. Contact us at 713-827-2255
For more the 20 years Exterior Worlds has specialized in servicing many of Houston’s fine neighborhoods.