I had admired my friend Renee's Napa Valley house from afar long before I got to know her. Hidden behind a wooden gate, the house itself was hard to see, but the low front fence and graveled outer garden gave the setup the appearance of being open yet private at the same time.
When Renee bought the land several years ago, there was nothing on it except a small vineyard and a well in the middle of the lot. She knew she wanted to design a structure that embraced indoor/outdoor living, and ultimately the well ended up dictating the plan: it became the central courtyard that the house is built around. Renee tells us, "I have the doors open all day for a lot of the year, and the courtyard has become an extension of the living room. The outdoor space feels very much part of the house." Her indoor/outdoor mission duly accomplished.
Photography by Mimi Giboin for Gardenista.
Above: The house is set behind a low fence; the graveled patio is used for bike parking.
Above: Wooden gates open onto an inner courtyard at the entry. Renee says, "I wanted to create something peaceful, so I could spend time on the front porch reading. It's a great spot to catch the afternoon sun."
Above: The view from the living room to the front gate through ivy that trails off the front of the house.
Above: The ivy carries over into the courtyard. " We usually have wine and cocktails outside and if it's cool out, we sit by the fire. When the kids were younger, they would paint and draw with chalk out here all the time."
For another typical California patio, see Garden Visit: A Tropical Paradise in LA's Echo Park.
Above: A bull's head above the stone fireplace.
Above: The outdoor Montego Seating came from Room & Board and the red Adirondack chairs were picked up at a local farmer's market.
Above: The children's collection of stones and bottle caps.
Above: "I have a lot of greenery in pots—Euphorbia, flax, and succulents, low maintenance sorts of things. The pots are good for adding height."
Above: The view from the courtyard through to the front of the house.
Above: Galvanized planters in a secluded area at the rear of the house. See more ideas for troughs at Steal This Look: Galvanized Troughs as Raised Beds.
Above: A small seating area in the inner garden at the front of the house.
Above: The garage with sliding barn doors.
N.B.: This is an update of a post originally published August 2, 2013.