Midlothian, VA Landscape Design: Elevated Deck and Recessed Custom Spa
Updated: Feb 15
In today’s landscape design challenge we visit a property in Midlothian, VA. Homes here in the greater Richmond area typically have larger backyards, which means more space to work with. At Water and Earth, we get excited about landscape design for properties of all sizes, from postage stamp sized city spaces to big backyards with room to spare.
Today’s landscape design challenge gave us plenty of space to spread out. From a custom pool, to a raised deck, and plenty of grassy space for pets and kids, this design has something for everyone. Let’s get into it.
Introducing The Space
When we first arrived at the client’s home, we took a series of drone shots. Shots such as these allow us to get a vivid map of the homeowner’s yard, which is helpful during the first stages of the design process.
Above, you can see that the property was a blank slate when we got involved. There was little landscaping, no hardscaping or living space, and a large retention pond at the rear of the property. The homeowners were looking to fill this space with a pool, deck, covered seating, fire pit, and kitchen.
While the yard was completely bare of work, the house had three existing entrances into the space from the back of the home. These staircases encompassed the elevation difference between the main level of the home and the backyard. We wanted to create a way to close this gap naturally, while allowing any added decking to be fully accessible and functional.
After talking with the homeowners about their vision for the space, we got to work. We came back to our next meeting with the clients with two design directions–Concept A, and Concept B.
The 2D rendering for the first design direction, Concept A, can be seen above. Stepping out of the back of the home, the clients find themselves on a large deck. This deck is accessible from any of the three exits off the back of the home, and is level with the main floor of the house. The far right exit houses the brand new fire pit, while the larger, main area of the deck is covered by a brand new pergola.
Under the pergola is covered living space, as well as a new outdoor kitchen and bar. This allows the deck to serve as a central living and entertaining space, while keeping the rest of the property in view. Leaving the deck, the homeowners descend a set of stairs at the right side of the deck.
From here, they step onto a secondary deck at a lower grade. The new spa is sunken in this deck to create a custom look and hide the sides. It is easily accessible from two sides, while the remaining edges overlook the pool and the large grassy area on the right side of the yard.
Moving off of the secondary deck, our clients walk down a wide staircase onto the brand new paver patio and pool deck. Here, there is plenty of space for a dining table and chairs or lounge chairs. Finishing out the hardscaping is the new, custom pool which includes a large baja shelf and water feature wall along the far side of the pool.
The large size of the property allows all of these to be possible, while retaining sizable green space on both sides of the property. Throughout the lawn space, multiple trees provide ample shade, while a line of new trees forms a green wall between the backyard and the pond.
The secondary design, seen above, echoes many of the design ideas seen in Concept A. Concept B, however, plays with layout and location to create a distinct design identity. Stepping out of the home from any of the three exits, the clients find themselves on a deck, as they do in the first design.
However, instead of a large pergola that covers both the kitchen and the living space, the footprint of the pergola has been reduced. The central deck size has been reduced. The right side, however, has increased to accommodate a dining area which replaces the fire pit from the first design. From the right side of the deck, the clients can step directly into their new spa, which is perched atop a series of concrete steppers the space the length of the two central edges.
From the central deck, the homeowners step left onto a staircase. The descent is divided by a large platform, providing space for additional seating or even planters. Stepping down, the large paver patio from Concept A reappears. This time, the kitchen is situated on the patio, adjacent to the fire pit and space for seating.
As in the first design, the pool is a long, linear rectangle shape. The baja shelf has been retained, but is moved to the left side of the pool, mimicking the footprint of the spa above it. Much of the rest of the space is consistent with the first design. Large expanses of lawn, as well as trees for shade and privacy plantings finish the space.
After reviewing both designs, the homeowners were most interested in the direction of Concept A. However, they wanted to see a few changes made to the design before we moved forward. Those changes can be seen in the revision above.
The large deck and pergola are still present. The fire pit, however, has been relocated off of the home’s left exit, and a seat wall has been added for extra accommodations. The sunken deck has also moved flush left, still sunken into the hardscaping and surrounded by a series of stairs allowing access to the lower half of the yard.
In this design, additional landscaping has been added, as well as a large boulder on the perimeter of the pool. A raised planter and bench aligns with the right hand side of the deck, and a structure for hiding pool equipment is added along the side of the home.
After seeing the revised version of Concept A, the homeowners were excited about the design and we proceeded to the next step–3D Renderings. This is a particularly exciting stage of the process for homeowners, as they get to see their dream backyard take place. What had existed only in their minds is now a tangible image of what is possible in their space.
Above, you see a 3D rendering of the large deck spanning the length of the back of the home. The large pergola acts as an extension of the home, and is inlaid with recessed lighting, as well as a fan to help circulate air on hot days. The kitchen and bar area is complemented by three hanging pendant lights.
Moving off of the deck, you can see how the recessed spa has come to life. In this application, it is accessible both from the landing of the two-tier staircase, as well as directly from the stairs themselves. A water feature is inlaid into the wall of the deck for additional visual and sonic interest.
In the above image, you can see one of the two large lawn spaces that flank the home’s main entertainment area. The landscaping, as well as the raised planter added during concept revision are both visible from this angle.
In the above rendering, you can see the custom pool. The back wall is highlighted by a water feature wall, while the corner baja shelf doubles as the pool’s exit and entrance. The diving rock from the revision has been added to bring a softer, more organic line to the linear design.
One of the most interesting aspects of the finished design is how it plays with elevation. The deck is level with the main floor of the home, while stairs allow our client’s to descend into their space. This allows each aspect of the outdoor living space to feel distinct without feeling disconnected.
Final Design Concept
After reviewing the 3D renderings, we were able to finalize the design. This concept can be seen below. Like all of our in-process projects, a finished walk through of this landscape design challenge is forthcoming upon completion of the space.
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