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Richmond, VA Landscape Design: Old World Charm Meets Modern Design in Historic Downtown

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

We love the city of Richmond. From the historic downtown to the outlying neighborhoods and suburbs, we serve clients across the metro area. However, for many downtown Richmond residents, there is often a sentiment that their backyards are too small to incorporate the custom outdoor living space they really want. In today’s Richmond landscape design challenge, we revisit a finished project in downtown Richmond.

This particular property is located on Monument Drive, one of the most visited, and most scenic streets in all of downtown Richmond. Our clients in this home were eager to have a backyard space that matched the historic beauty of their surroundings, while reflecting their own, modern sensibilities.

On their wish list was a custom spa and covered outdoor living space, as well as some updates to the existing hardscaping. Of course, downtown lots are not as large as their sprawling suburban counterparts. Finding ways to deliver everything a client needs without creating a backyard that is cramped is one of our favorite challenges. Good design knows to get the best bang for your buck, and is exactly what we did with this space.

Updated Driveway and Paver Patio

One of the first areas that needed an update was the driveway. Here, we replaced the old driveway with a new custom paver drive that adds a natural feel to the space without skewing too cold or modern.

The new paver driveway. The covered bluestone patio features an outdoor fireplace.

The color of the driveway pavers contrast with the edging and oval inlay, and balance beautifully with the custom bluestone paver patio, accessible from both the driveway and the main yard.

Custom Spa and Pergola

Moving into the main yard space, we constructed a custom cedar pergola that brings warmth and natural textures into the yard while maintaining clean and modern lines. Not to mention, the slatted pergola design provides much needed shade during hot Richmond summers.

We finished the custom pergola with lighting, including sconces and hanging pendant lighting, as well as a fully functional fan above the outdoor kitchen area.

The custom cedar pergola covers the length of the patio, complete with luxury spa, dining space, and outdoor kitchen.

Under the large pergola are three distinct areas, including a custom 8’x8’ luxury spa. The raised spa is finished with a natural look stone, seen throughout the living space in both the pergola supports and the outdoor kitchen counters. It was important to us to retain a blend of both modern and more naturalistic design elements in this space.

The custom spa, finished with bluestone and stone veneer. Seating wraps the entire perimeter of the spa. Civil war era red brick walls line the perimeter of the property.

The spa itself is a bit of a chameleon, taking nods from natural pools and fountains. The overall effect is a clean, modern design that manages to look right at home on the historic boulevard.

​​Dining and Kitchen Space

Also beneath the canopy of the pergola is the dining space and outdoor kitchen. It is important to us that clients feel comfortable using their outdoor living space for as long as possible. After all, if you’re going to invest a large amount of money into your backyard, you should be able to enjoy it day and night, and for as long as possible.

Heaters are built into either side of this pergola support beam.

To help increase the functionality of this space, we installed two outdoor heaters along the beams of the pergola. This allows homeowners to warm up the space when temperatures drop. Additionally, strategic outdoor lighting from both above and below means that this space feels warm and inviting long after the sun goes down.

Silver Travertine Patio

It’s always fun when designs allow room for the unexpected. In this design, we felt there was room to play with some of the hardscaping elements. This meant mixing and matching more organic stone finishes with modern pavers, allowing all of it to play off of the historic red brick wall along the property line.

Silver travertine creates a dynamic visual contrast, cooling down the warm cedar wood of the pergola overhead.

One of the more unique materials in this space is that of the main patio. This patio, which houses the outdoor kitchen, spa, and dining space is made of silver travertine. Silver travertine is not only beautiful, but it is far less utilized than its yellow travertine counterpart. This helped create a gorgeous contrast between the warm yellow of the cedar pergola overhead, and the cooler travertine underfoot.

Custom Playground

No space is complete if it doesn’t serve even the smallest members of the family. In order to make this backyard functional for all, we decided to build a custom playground, giving the client’s children an area to call their own.

The custom cedar play structure can be seen in the background. Two arms extend from a pyramid style climbing structure, giving support space for children’s swings.

To fit the size and design of the space, we decided to create a completely custom play structure. This meant drawing out the design, and hiring a carpenter to build it from scratch. No prefabrication needed.

Closed Storage

Looking toward the back of the property. A stone wall hides the spa equipment and property trash cans.

No design is finished without attention to details. In this case, we were sure to include closed storage to disguise the spa equipment and garbage cans. To do so, we constructed a wall finished in the same stone, creating a cohesive look. The result is a visually seamless space, where unsightly but necessary items such as trash cans remain out of sight and out of mind.

Old Meets New in Richmond, VA

It’s always special to work on properties that have notable historical contexts. In this project, a Monument Avenue home got an outdoor transformation that merges modern touches with historic features. From silver travertine to civil war era brick, old meets new with beautiful results. Whether we’re working on a small lot in a city, or a large backyard with room to spare, our clients can feel confident that they can have it all.

For more design inspiration from all around Richmond, check out our blog. From in depth project walk throughs, to your most pressing landscape design questions and honest reviews, there’s always something new to discover. For day to day updates and sneak peaks at our latest projects, follow us on Instagram!

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