Home & Garden

A couple creates an outdoor living room in Paso Robles

Bill and Jennie Enholm's backyard features a fireplace, landscaping and shade sails

Special to The TribuneJuly 23, 2013 

  • How to create an outdoor living room

    Tips from Bill Enholm and Marc Behymer on creating your own outdoor living room.

    • Search the Internet for ideas. Bill recommends www.houzz.com.
    • Sanford Stone in Templeton carries a wide variety of natural stone from throughout the country: www.sanfordstone.com.
    • For more information on pondless waterfalls and tanks, visit www.berkeysupply.com.
    • Shade sails can be purchased online at www.shadesails.com.
    • Before starting construction, mock up the setting in order to determine best orientation for fireplace and seating during various times of day and evening.
    • Marc Behymer provides both design consultation and construction for indoor-outdoor living and landscape solutions: www.marcbehymerlandscape.com or 235-8021.

When Bill and Jennie Enholm relocated to Paso Robles from Orange County, they wanted a backyard that would draw them outdoors.

Bill, a banker, and Jennie, a CPA, had followed their daughter to North County after she attended Cal Poly and settled in Paso Robles. They purchased their cottage home built by Taylor Odenwald after looking for just one day. The new house within walking distance of downtown Paso was perfect, but the lot was in need of their creativity and vision.

The main challenge of the large corner lot was that it included a dedicated drainage easement from the development on the hills above them. This muddy clay ditch ran through the middle of the backyard to the street. They hired landscaper Marc Behymer, known for his creative outdoor living designs, to provide an aesthetic solution for the drainage channel along with a landscape scheme for the entire yard.

Bill Enholm and Behymer brainstormed and drew up plans together. Bill wanted a reason to hang out in the backyard, and Behymer had just the right ideas for him. Together they created the idea of an outdoor living room with a central fireplace, edged by a river rock and boulder streambed.

The streambed turned the drainage easement problem into an asset, allowing for both function and form, as the natural streambed would actually carry the winter water out to the street while it provided an attractive visual element.

After excavating and removing six inches of messy mud, Behymer installed a six inch perforated drainage pipe to route excess water flow under the streambed. On top of the pipe he layered decomposed granite and then river rock, with moss covered boulders of various sizes along the edge. A graceful arched bridge was placed over the stream to access the yard on the other side.

A second water element, a pondless waterfall, was added near the new flagstone patio to provide a soothing sound to the outdoor living room. For the waterfall, Enholm and Behymer selected one of the boulders as the fountain, drilling a hole for the pumped water to flow over the rock and then vanish into the small rock garden around it. Beneath the rock bed, they installed a 200-gallon pondless waterfall tank that is four feet square and 12 inches deep.

Behymer created sketches for an outdoor fireplace design based on Enholm’s ideas, and set up mock scenarios on the planned patio for location of the structure. Local stonemason Steve Tapia built the attractive Oklahoma Stone fireplace in three weeks, using a mortarless method so the stone looks like it was stacked up. A mantle made of a large stone slab provides a spot for snacks and drinks, while the chimney allows for both gas and wood fuel.

For shade, Enholm chose to use shade sails in three colors picking up the tones of the flagstone patio. Behymer fabricated strong supports for the sails using 3-½ inch oil well pipe with welded hooks for the sails.

The advantage of the sails is that they create a fluid feeling as the sun moves in and out through the sails, which Enholm found more interesting than a solid wooden patio structure. At night, the sails provide for star viewing as the Enholms and guests sit in comfortable lounge chairs in front of the fire.

The most amazing part of this story is that the Enholms have only been in their home since March. Bill Enholm explained, “There has been someone working on the house and yard every day since we bought it.” Although he is a banker by profession, Bill says he loves design, and that this project, with the help of his new friend, Behymer, has been great fun!

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