Lost and found

New steps and a wall create an outdoor room in Oakland
Lauren Bonar Swezey

When you remodel a house, one project often leads to another. That's what Suzette and Bob Ferguson found when they renovated the rear balcony and basement of their Oakland house. Because the remodel provided better access to their gently sloping backyard, the seldom-used garden took on new importance.

For help, the Fergusons turned to designers Shari Bashin-Sullivan and Richard Sullivan, who created a space that looks great and is perfect for entertaining. A new fountain and a patio paved with Lodi gravel replaced a decrepit pond. A new retaining wall ― built from Napa basalt as well as brick and broken-concrete rubble recycled from the home's old driveway ― adds a textural backdrop for brightly colored perennials and roses. Stairs connect the patio with the house's basement level.

"The rustic materials used for the wall bring an Old World flavor to the garden," says Bashin-Sullivan. The wall "contrasts well with the billowy plants around it."

DESIGN: Enchanting Planting, Orinda, CA (925/258-5500)