Learn how a California couple turned the narrow 15- by 30-foot corridor outside their home into a cozy, colorful alfresco living room


1. Trellis For Shade
A coated aluminum trellis overhead provides some shade, but its opening lets through enough daylight to bathe a privacy wall and fountain.

2. Floral Backdrop
Plants that tolerate drought and heat―including gaura, lavender, and salvia―draw the eye toward the back fence.

3. Longer Patio
The new patio is roomier than the deck it replaced. Rosy cocoa tiles enhance the expansive feel, as do the pavers.

4. Curving Seat Wall
Topped with Arizona flagstone, this distinctive feature curves from the patio’s end to the firepit.

5. Fountain
A freestanding, stucco-faced wall, built 3 feet in from the property line and painted a rich persimmon hue, helps mask a neighbor’s home. Water passes through a slit near the wall’s top and falls through a bed of cobbles into an underground basin, then recirculates.

INFO The remodel cost $24,000 (for design, walls, firepit, fountain, trellis, and installation), plus $4,300 for paint and tile. Design: Roberta Walker Landscape Design, Sacramento; 916/485-4769, for Josh and Rosemary Rubinstein.

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