Chicago, IL


For some, a small space may appear insignificant, just another confined area. However, for a design specialist, a small space presents an opportunity to create a lasting and functional environment.

I’d like to share a story that can serve as a valuable learning experience for those with small backyards. The next time you gaze upon your modest outdoor space, you might see more than just a simple square or rectangular patio.

A frustrated homeowner approached us for assistance after having already engaged a local landscape installation company to design their backyard. While this company was renowned for their excellent craftsmanship and customer service, their design skills were primarily focused on routine projects. Their approach involved offering a free design solely for the purpose of installation. Unfortunately, the homeowners were dissatisfied with both the design itself and its overall direction.

One of the greatest misconceptions about outdoor living spaces is the idea of spatial separation. Many contractors tend to create oversized patios and decks in large backyards. However, when considering indoor living spaces, a spacious dining room accommodating a large table and six chairs typically requires only an area of 18′ x 14′. Curiously, outdoor spaces often expand to dimensions of 30′ x 20′. This reasoning often leads to the neglect of small spaces.

Upon working with this particular client, we swiftly identified their most important desires and requirements, enabling us to devise a concept that perfectly matched their lifestyle. Our solution involved creating a generous transition landing that allowed for seamless movement from the house without the need to step down immediately. These transitional spaces provide comfortable access while carrying food trays and beverages, preventing potential hazards.

This new transitional landing led to a long, inviting patio measuring 21′ x 15′, thoughtfully divided into two distinct zones. One area was designated for dining, while the other accommodated a captivating fire feature, complemented by a small seat wall for additional guests. These two spaces could be utilized simultaneously, fostering an intimate dining experience alongside the warmth and ambiance of the fire.

To enhance the functionality of the backyard, we also incorporated an Urban Bonefire Grill Island to the side, complete with custom-selected cabinets, a granite counter, and a high-quality Kalamazoo grill.

Finally, we added a touch of softness to the area adjacent to the garage by introducing a lush lawn and carefully curated landscaping elements. Recognizing that the existing fence was in poor condition, we replaced it with a new custom 7′ cedar-stained fence, enhancing both the aesthetic appeal and privacy of the backyard.


  • Integrate the new space seamlessly with the existing home architecture.
  • Create a captivating family fun area visible from the family room.
  • Optimize the limited footprint for multi-purpose functionality.


  • Outdoor Kitchen System: Elevate outdoor culinary experiences with a fully equipped kitchen.
  • Shadow Spec Umbrella: Stylish and functional shade solution for added appeal.
  • Landscape Lights: Enchanting illumination to enhance the ambiance.
  • Natural Gas Fire Feature: Mesmerizing focal point that adds warmth to gatherings.


  • Unlocking Creativity in a Compact Space: Innovate to make the most of the limited area.
  • Aesthetics with Security: Balance beauty and safety in the design.
  • Efficient Space Management: Streamline logistics within the confined space for smooth execution.