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  • Writer's pictureWELD

San Jose Landscape Challenge–Custom Pool, Outdoor Kitchen, and Raised Deck

Today’s landscape design challenge brings us to another beautiful San Jose property. This home had been subject to previous outdoor redesigns, but the owners were looking to give it an update. At the top of their list was a balance between fun and function, with features like an outdoor kitchen, seating space, and a beautiful modern pool as key asks. Read on to see how we took this space from outdated to a modern, fun, and functional outdoor living space for the whole family.

Introducing The Space

Corner lots present unique challenges, and this San Jose property was no exception. The front yard, which also got a full redesign, was set back from the street on a corner with a long brick retaining wall separating the lot from the sidewalk.

view of unfinished before front yard San Jose landscape design

From the curb, the front walkway was finished with outdated brick and concrete hardscaping. The landscaping left something to be desired, and the overall curb appeal needed a boost. The homeowners were looking for a front yard that would match their vision for their backyard living space, with more thoughtful planting and updated pavers and lighting.

view of unfinished before front yard San Jose landscape design

Moving around to the back of the home, you can see the previous iteration of landscape design. While the pool was functional, the brick coping and lackluster concrete pool deck left something to be desired aesthetically. The homeowners were looking for an update to both. In the corner you can see outdated shed storage structure tucked into the fence. While mostly functional, it does not blend into the aesthetic of the space, and was in sore need of a redesign. 

old pool lined with brick coping. old concrete pool deck and plastic shed in the corner of the property

Looking toward the home from the back of the yard, you can see the cramped existing seating area. All huddled under the client’s shade canopy is the outdoor furniture, as well as the grill and pool equipment. This shared space was simply not working. The homeowners were looking for new outdoor living space that would provide dedicated seating surrounding a cozy firepit. 

cramped back patio

Finally, moving around to the side of the home, you can see the existing green space. The brick pavers from the front of the yard continue here, and container planters look more like an afterthought. The homeowners were looking to refine this space and improve flow from the front to backyard.

unfinished side year with turf and container plantings

2D Renderings

Concept A

The first concept, Concept A, can be seen below. 

2d design rendering concept a san Jose landscape design

Starting in the front of the house, you see that the old hardscaping on the front approach and driveways has been replaced. In place of the old walkway are new,”floating” steppers, that weave up toward the house. Surrounding is new landscaping and a raised planter that separates the front walkway from the driveway. 

Moving around to the back of the home, the clients step through the gate and onto a new lawn space. The new grass is laid in an organic shape with new trees lining the fence. Stepping off the lawn and into the main stretch of backyard, the homeowners walk onto their new pool deck and patio, finished in an updated paver. Outdoor seating surrounds the new gas fire pit. The plastic shed also gets a proposed update and now houses the pool equipment stylishly. 

In the center of the space is the new custom pool, surrounded on the backside by a raised, composite wood deck. Not only does this deck offer additional seating, but it gives pool goers a platform to jump from, lounge on, and soak up the sun all with a great view of the rest of the yard. At the back perimeter of the property line, the fence is finished with new landscaping as well as decorative panels to add visual interest as well as function. 

From the pool, the clients turn back toward the home to a new outdoor kitchen and bar where cramped seating used to be. The space is anchored by a floating planter off of the home, and covered by a brand new pergola. 

Concept B

Moving on to the second design, Concept B, you see many of the same elements in play, albeit imagined in a slightly different way. 

2d rendering san Jose landscape design concept b

Starting in the front of the home, the paver driveway and raised planter remain unchanged. The front approach, however, now sees the floating stepper arranged in a linear fashion, punctuated by another raised planter. Concept B also includes an addition of a paved front walkway that brings the homeowners around the front of the home and into the new backyard. 

In the backyard, the clients step onto another version of the lawn space. Here, the turf is broken up on either end by long, concrete steppers that lead them past a repositioned shed, and onto the new paver patio. Where the last design featured a fire pit and outdoor seating, this iteration now places the outdoor kitchen and bar. The pool and deck remain largely unchanged, but in place of the old outdoor kitchen you see a custom rectangular fire pit and seating, covered by a large pergola. 

After closely reviewing both designs, the clients were feeling more drawn to the layout of the second concept. However, there were still some small tweaks they wanted to see before we moved forward. Feedback is the most valuable part of working with our clients, and we always take it seriously. After making their desired changes, we presented the final 2D rendering of this San Jose landscape design. 

Revised Renderings

Below you can see the final version of the space, rendered in 2D. While most of what is seen in the original Concept B is seen here, there are minor changes to note.

revised 2d rendering of the final space

The front space has remained unchanged, however the small side yard has seen a further simplification. Most of the concrete steppers have been removed and the size of the lawn has been increased. The deck has been fully drawn here, and a small covered seating nook has been placed in the corner. Finally, this colorized version includes a more detailed version of the proposed landscaping plan, making it easier for our clients to visualize the design. 

After reviewing the finalized 2D renderings, these homeowners were excited and ready to move forward with the next step of the process–3D renderings. 

3D Renderings

The 3D renderings brought this space to life, and gave the homeowners a glimpse into what their outdoor living space would look like when all was said and done. Starting in the front yard, we mocked up the new retaining wall, as well as the floating planters that anchored both the driveway, front steps, and walkway to the back of the home. 

3d rendering of the new front of the home with planters and paver driveway

Looking from above, you can see the old brick and concrete have been swapped for modern concrete pavers that create geometric patterns in the driveway and in front of the home’s entrance. The raised planters are finished with complementary pavers and spotlights to increase visibility in the space long after day turns into night.

a closer look at the new geometric paver driveway

Moving into the back of the home, you can see how the 2D renderings have really come to life. The previously messy, impermanent container planters have been changed out for anchored raised planters and in ground landscaping. A long, updated walkway leads the homeowners through the gate and into the main outdoor living space. 

the new side yard finished with a new walkway and turf

Stepping off the walkway, the homeowners move onto the new, geometric paver patio. In front of the updated shed, the new outdoor kitchen takes shape. A grill, countertop, and outdoor bar provide plenty of room for both cooking, and outdoor dining. 

the proposed outdoor kitchen san Jose landscape design

Behind the kitchen is the main feature of the new backyard–the custom pool. The long, subdued kidney bean shape of the pool is reminiscent of vintage outdoor design, while the raised deck and integrated, decorative privacy panels at the edge of the lot bring a modern flair.

a new modern kidney bean shaped pool san Jose landscape design includes a raised pool deck

Turning to face the home, the new seating area is covered by a custom pergola fitted with recessed lighting and an outdoor fan. Below, a wooden seat wall faced the custom gas fireplace. A long, raised planter ties this outdoor living space to the lush landscaping planted along the perimeter of the yard. 

pergola covered outdoor seating area with long gas fireplace

Looking from above, you can see how each feature seamlessly flows into each other, while the bold geometric pavers and raised deck offer both style and function. For a relatively small space, these renderings proved to the clients that everything they were looking for would fit into their backyard without compromising on style. 

Aerial view of the new backyard in 3d rendering software

Finished Space

After construction was finished, we were thrilled to see that the final design had taken shape exactly as it had been presented and envisioned. Entering the backyard through the gate, the clients step onto their new, lush lawn. The fence perimeter is finished with garden beds, while a new raised planter hugs the side of the home, ushering them onto a series of concrete steppers.

the new side yard featuring raised planters and landscaping bed, new turf, and long concrete stepper

At the end of the steps, the new paver patio begins. Nestled on top is the new outdoor kitchen, complete with a grill, ample counter space, and a bar. Overhead the clients have repurposed their old canopy. To reinforce this cozy privacy, a large wood privacy wall has been added to the property line at the back of the kitchen. 

Also visible at this angle is the brand new shed and pool equipment storage. The warm wood siding and clean lines not only tie into the deck and planter beds, but offer a beautiful upgrade the the previous plastic shed that was tucked away in the corner.

the new outdoor kitchen and new composite wood shad. marble countertops grill space and sink

From the kitchen, the homeowners can sit at the bar, or turn around and look out over their new, custom pool. Below, the organically shaped pool is surrounded by that elevated composite wood deck. Spotlights cast a beautiful glow onto the home’s new decorative privacy panels, setting a cozy ambience for the space even after the sun has set. 

the new pool and raised pool deck. outdeco panels are illuminated at night with spotlights

Below, you see the corner of the deck opens up to create plenty of room for lounge seating. From this central space, tanners can look out towards the brand new outdoor kitchen. Also clearly visible here is the pool’s dark gray coping, which provides color contrast to the lighter patio pavers featured in the space. 

another angle of the pool looking at the contrasting coping and paver patio

Turning around, you see the finished covered outdoor living space. Anchored in the middle by that long, gas fireplace, the wooden seat wall has come to life, complete with the dividing planter bed. The pergola has transformed from the rendering, with the homeowners opting for a simple, upgraded canvas canopy to keep the sun and rain from interfering with a cozy night around the fire.

the new covered seating area with seat wall, planter, and gas fireplace

At the end of the day, this outdated home got a major redesign that does justice to the homeowner’s tastes and lifestyle. Projects like this are a true testament to the fact that you do not have to compromise style for function. Even the smallest yards can pack a big design punch, while providing everything you are looking for in premium outdoor living.

an aerial look at the finished design

For more design transformations like this one, visit the Water and Earth blog. To see what we’re working on day to day, or for design inspiration of your own, follow us on Instagram

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