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—Styling by Kerri Cole/All Photography by Rebecca Stumpf

Create An Inviting Backyard Oasis

A small, serene Denver courtyard lives large with an inventive design by Dig Studio.

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Bigger isn’t always better—at least, that’s what the owners of this Country Club–neighborhood home discovered under the tutelage of Denver-based Dig Studio’s landscape architects. The couple had recently downsized from a rambling lot in Cherry Hills—replete with a giant lawn and the maintenance that comes with it—when they set out to renovate their smaller, more urban yard for relaxing and entertaining. They tapped Laurel Raines, principal at Dig, to create a space that would function like their old one, but in a more compact setting.


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A “living wall” of resilient succulents is mounted to the trellis to make the most of limited space. (From Cost Plus World Market).


A palette of summer hues adorns the table: teal place mats, wooden chargers, kiwi salad plates, and patterned cloth napkins. (From Cost Plus World Market).


Raines and her team dreamed up a T-shaped design with a courtyard off the house and a trellised dining area at the far end of the property. The sunlit courtyard, enclosed by the whitewashed walls of the modern home (designed by local architect Elizabeth Metz), mindfully blends form, texture, and color. Sandstone pavers combined with pebblelike decomposed granite (think Parisian garden) create a refined surface where the homeowners can rearrange furniture to make way for guests. Lush greenery, including boxwoods, vines, and potted succulents, set the tone for private, al fresco dining by the cedar trellis. Says Raines: “We wanted to maximize their garden space so it would have a richness and interest in all seasons and complement the architecture.”


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Staggered hanging glass lanterns add jewellike sparkle to the dining area—day and night. Weathered teak furniture evokes a casual, unfussy elegance, while the trellis—and a few strategically placed trees—lend privacy to the backyard space.


For the courtyard, Laurel Raines, principal at Dig Studio, says she “considered the color of the house” when selecting the pavers and plant material to maximize contrast. The warm-toned sandstone pavers, topped with an avocado jute rug, provide a stage for casual seating or dining.


Al fresco fare looks inviting layered on a wooden platter from Crate & Barrel; eye-catching pots with shapely succulents, such as coral carpet and agave, add easy, low-maintenance color and texture to small spaces.

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