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Borello Ranch Outdoor Living Design - Project 2

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

Modern backyard design in the Borello Ranch neighborhood in Morgan Hill, CA.

Introducing The Space

Every project Water and Earth takes on is looked at through an individual lens. Even though all of our Borello Ranch projects are within the same community, no homeowners want the exact same things, and no two properties are exactly alike.

In the case of this project, we were working with a slightly different property line than our first. Instead of a fence spanning the entire perimeter, this yard was a corner lot. Part of their perimeter was banked by a large wall that could not be altered in accordance with the Estates homeowners association.

A view of the initial space. The white wall is a permanent fixture of the lot, unable to be altered.

When this happens, we know part of our design challenge will be seamlessly incorporating these elements into our designs in a way that best serves both the property and our clients.


Many of the clients we work with want similar things from their space. A pool, outdoor dining space, covered outdoor living areas, fire features, and space for the kids. However, the way in which these elements exist in their design rarely occur the same way twice.

This is because, although many homeowners want the same types of things from their space, no two people use a space in the exact same way. A layout that makes sense for one family may make no sense for another.

Furthermore, every person has their own sense of style and aesthetics. We know better than anyone that no two sets of people will see a space the same way. That’s why we are careful not to rush any design process, regardless of the client wishlist. We take our time to understand exactly what the homeowners want, and how they see themselves navigating their yard.

After having these initial conversations with these clients, we returned with two design concepts we thought they would love.

Concept A

Concept A

Concept A begins with our clients stepping out of the loggia and into a conversational patio centered around a fireplace. To the left of this feature is lawn and play space for the kids, and an outdoor kitchen to the right.

Several elements of this design play off of the walls of this property, and this can be seen even in this design. Above the outdoor kitchen, string lights anchor from the privacy fence, to the house, and back, bringing the fence’s permanence into the design without making it a focal point.

From there, we moved to design the side of the property which featured the unalterable wall. This wall has a unique curve to it. Instead of trying to camouflage this effect, we decided to use it as a chance to get creative.

You can see in this rendering how we used the lines of the pool to play into this curvature. While three of the pool walls take the shape of straight, rectangular lines, the perimeter facing side adopts the same curve as the wall behind it. This curve is again mimicked by the spa that is nested inside the pool.

These subtle repeating lines integrate the permanent wall into the space in a more organic way. Similar to the 45 degree lines in Project 1, we think subtle details like these make some of the biggest differences in overall design.

Moving from the pool toward the back edge of the property is even more space for kids to play. The entire project is finished with carefully designed landscaping and lighting.

Concept B

Concept B

Like most of our designs, Concept B retains the wish list items from the first rendering. Fire pit, living area, kitchen, pool, and spa are all easily located in this design. However, the overall actualization of these elements looks much different.

Instead of stepping out from the loggia into a patio which houses the fireplace, the homeowners now find themselves stepping into the outdoor kitchen. The open lawn space remains from the first concept. In this rendering, we added a living succulent wall behind the kitchen, bringing some additional color and vibrancy to this covered space.

The largest departure from Concept A can be seen in this version's envisioning of the swimming pool. Instead of curving lines, the homeowners now see themselves stepping down into a fully rectangular pool from a baja shelf, with a feature wall running the length at the far end.

Where the curved edge was in Concept A’s pool design, you now see a large tanning deck. Stepping down from the tanning deck, you find yourself in a covered living space, now fully equipped with the fire feature.

Decisions and Revisions

After presenting, clients loved Concept B, however they wanted to see some additional options within the design. They were particularly interested in seeing a version that included a sunken living space.

Modern backyard design in the Borello Ranch neighborhood in Morgan Hill, CA.

A rendering, looking over the pool toward the water feature wall. The pergola is visible behind the corner of the home.

When creating the 3D renderings for this project, we were able to integrate this sunken living space. To do this, we relocated the firepit and created a dropped space alongside the space the pool and spa.

Modern backyard design in the Borello Ranch neighborhood in Morgan Hill, CA.

A look at the sunken area that was added during rendering .The wall holding the pool is transparent, allowing those sitting around the fire to look directly into the water.

In this design, clients exit the home into the covered kitchen, and allow the design to guide them around the corner of the home towards the pool. From there, they take a few steps down into this dropped conversational area, and exit back out towards the rest of the finished yard.

Modern backyard design in the Borello Ranch neighborhood in Morgan Hill, CA.

Another look at this sunken space. The clients can move down through this gathering area, and climb out into the other side of the yard.

Because this dropped area was placed poolside, we were left with some additional room to add another unique element to the space. Instead of finishing the pit-facing side of the pool wall with an opaque finishing, we opted for a clear acrylic panel. This finish creates an almost aquarium-like effect where those sitting in the conversational pit.

Additional Renderings

As this space began to take shape, we continued to work with our clients to ensure that they could weigh every version of the space that they were interested in exploring. We are always happy to show clients more options, especially when changes to the design could potentially change or improve how the space functions for them.

Modern backyard design in the Borello Ranch neighborhood in Morgan Hill, CA.

A night time rendering, featuring a removal of the pergola from the previous round of 3D. String lights weave from the home to a large living wall behind the outdoor kitchen.

In this case, not only did we do a set of 3d rendering that reflects a covered living space, but we created a set of renderings that feature no pergola at all. We believe that small tweaks like these, especially in the 3D rendering stage, allow our clients to feel comfortable and confident with their design decisions, before construction has even begun.

To Be Continued!

This project is currently coming to life. Construction is underway, and we plan to have the space completely finished by April, 2022. We are excited to share the finished results with you.

In the meantime, if you are eager to see more of our design transformation, check out the blog for more complete design write ups, or give us a follow over on Instagram. We love hearing your feedback.

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