Retaining walls pushed into a slope expand an outdoor living space

Lauren Bonar Swezey

When they lived in Hawaii, Zelie Myers and her husband, Jack, were used to spending lots of time outdoors with their four kids. So when they moved to Piedmont, California, it was important that their new garden offer plenty of areas for relaxing and entertaining. The trouble was, the outdoor living space at the back of the turn-of- the-century house was limited to a cramped concrete patio edged with retaining walls bracing a slope.

So they hired landscape designers Shari Bashin-Sullivan and Richard Sullivan to transform the backyard. To gain more usable space, the designers removed the old wooden retaining walls, cut into the base of the slope, then set new stone and stucco walls at an angle to the slope and the house.

The expanded patio, paved with random-cut brown Navajo flagstone, provides plenty of room for tables and chairs. The Myerses gather around a wood-burning fireplace of rustic brick stone.


On warm summer evenings, a heady fragrance from angel's trumpet and heliotrope permeates the air, reminding the family of their former home in the islands.

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

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