Easy Living: A South Carolina Indoor-Outdoor Home and Garden

This study in gracious Southern living is a fine example of how the Not So Big philosophy of better, not bigger, works in the garden.


| May/June 2006


Down South, people just know how to live outdoors. To take advantage of the warm, humid climate, they create indoor-outdoor places where they can enjoy their family, their neighbors and their environment. Porches, screened rooms, arbors and formal gardens are among these spaces—attached to the house yet part of the landscape. These transitional places combine home with garden and can provide privacy or encourage sociability, depending on one’s mood.

Husband-and-wife designers Ken Troupe and Cally Heppner got the mood just right on their property in Beaufort, South Carolina. Sitting on their covered front porch on a sultry summer evening, the couple can stir up a breeze in their side-by-side rockers or on their hanging porch swing. From their perch four feet above the street, they can nestle back against the house or call out to a neighbor passing by; it’s a perfect vantage point that offers both prospect and refuge at the same time. The porch also acts as an outdoor entry vestibule where visitors might dust themselves off before knocking. Secluded and secure, it’s a special transitional space that makes occupants—whether inhabitants or visitors—feel comfortable.

Serene on the side

Another porch, this one screened, wraps the side and back of the house and opens on the formal side garden. Designed to extend an insect-free, indoor/outdoor living space into the landscape, this screened room adds a natural dimension to everyday life. The high-gabled roof and ganged window screens veil and soften the eastern morning light. Jutting out into the landscape like a dock over water, the screened porch—along with a pair of towering live oaks—breaks the side garden into two parts.

A formal garden, complete with circular brick fountain and semicircular matching path, occupies the side yard. A fountain of splashing water occupies the center of the brick pool. Traditional southern plantings such as boxwood trees, azaleas and dogwood trees soften the edges of this landscaped outdoor “room.”

Screening out the public





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