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A Place to Celebrate
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Jack Coyier, courtesy Ted Lare Design + Build
GARDEN FEATURE August/September 2018
home :: home & garden :: featured gardens

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A new patio in rural Dallas Center draws family and friends to relax.

There are many reasons, of course, to build a patio. It’s a place to welcome the day with a hot cup of coffee. Good morning, world.

It’s a place to wrap up in a blanket on a chilly evening, warm your toes in the glow of a fire pit, and reflect on the events of today and look ahead to tomorrow.

It’s a spot to bring on neighbors and friends, share some snacks, and discuss the world situation.

It’s the place to celebrate a milestone, such as a big event like the graduation of a child.

For all those reasons, Bridget and Mike Needham of rural Dallas Center added a multifaceted patio to the home they built five years ago. It replaced a concrete-slab patio.

In keeping with the contemporary home she helped design, Bridget knew what she wanted for the patio at the walk-out two-story home. “The wind out here on the prairie can be so strong, so it was important to plan with that in mind.”

Jeremy Speck of Speck USA, who made the patio a reality, agrees that the wind was a huge concern. “The Needhams took their time to think through every detail. Besides wind, water was an issue. Because of the slope of the land to the house, we tiled everything out to the pond in the distance.” The Needhams don’t own the pond, but they enjoy a nice view of it.

Linear, symmetrical

The design features a square, linear, and symmetrical plan, all in line with the home’s look.

“Bridget has such a good eye, and she knew just what she wanted to coordinate with the lines of the house,” Speck says. “She wanted a low retaining wall to help as a windbreak. But it also acts as extra seating, so it serves a dual purpose.” The wall has yet another purpose: It helps abate the wind a bit on the in-ground fire pit.

Speck says the company doesn’t get to use low retaining walls as much in home layouts as in commercial ones. “We’re really pleased with how this could be useful and attractive at the same time.”

Bridget, an on-call dialysis nurse, loves the fire pit not only for its colorful glow but also for the warmth it puts out. “If we had a higher, above-ground fire pit, the ground-level heat on your toes would have been lost. This way, it’s so toasty warm. I love it.” The gas fire pit decorated with colorful blue stone crystals is a great place to make s’mores, too.

Stamped concrete

Large 4×4-foot stamped-concrete paver tiles form the base of the patio. Swirls add an artistic look underfoot. Speck USA is known for its stamped concrete. Speck says “skins” on the concrete give a modern look to the tile design. For more texture, Speck added the dimensional so-called waterfall textured edging to the retaining walls.

Furnishings and details repeat the black, gray, and white colors of the home. A spiral stairway leads down from the upper deck. As Bridget points out, the spiral takes up less space than a full set of stairs.

An oversize hot tub with an outdoor television above it makes for family fun. A casual seating area around the fire pit welcomes the Needhams and guests with four gray and black Adirondack chairs. Containers of ornamental grasses and geraniums add height and color to the fire pit area.

Mike, who owns a power supply company and an insurance agency, also has a smoker. He enjoys preparing items such as ribs and brisket. He also enjoys living in the rural spot. “Once we saw 42 deer at the same time, which was amazing,” he says. “We also have seen a number of fox and turkeys.”

Restful spots

On one side of the patio are a bistro table and two tall chairs. Under the deck is a seating area with a love seat, two chairs, and an ottoman, which can act as a coffee table. Bridget chose creamy beige muslin upholstery with a black and white striped throw and pillows and also black and white polka dot pillows for accents. A pot of yellow hibiscus adds a pop of color.

When the family entertains larger groups, there are numerous possibilities for fun. The walk-out level boasts a full bar, video games, a weight room, movie theater room, and a half gymnasium complete with a basketball hoop and a batting cage. Bridget and Mike love it when sons Austin, 18, and Zach, 16, bring their friends over.

To plan ahead for a complete look—and another graduation party in a couple years—the Needhams have planted 70 trees over the last two years, including magnolias, Japanese maples, and tulip trees, as well as oak, maple, and evergreens.


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