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

  • Extending the presence of home into the outdoors allows porch dwellers to witness the elements without actual contact. On still summer evenings, any air movement, enjoyed from the back-and-forth rhythm of a rocking chair or porch swing, is refreshing.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • When the source for this charming bronze statue is turned off, the central water feature becomes a reflecting pool, complete with water lilies floating on the surface.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • The brick fountain was placed to be visible from the dining room windows.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • This long, linear trellis brings privacy to the side-yard garden. Panels of wooden trellising create dappled light and air circulation, and shafts of light from the end of the structure lead visitors forward.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • Cally and Ken erected handsome piers and in-filled them with a high solid wall flanked by lower openwork screens, all made of the same brick used for the fountain.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • With its integration of landscape and building, and abundant plantings that create a sense of cloistered sanctuary, Cally and Ken’s property proves you don’t need acres to attain a sense of seclusion.
  • Furthering the traditional feeling of this neighborhood is the rear laneway, which means cars are kept in back. Here, the couple screens the driveway area with a charming trellised gateway and picket fencing.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • Cally and Ken extended the presence of their home by building a framework of trellising and screens.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • Homestead Purple (Verbena canadensis) sows itself freely in front of the picket fence along the lane. Behind the fence, Confederate jasmine vine blooms white to form a dense hedge.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • In this neotraditional community, architectural and planning review boards determined that the lots should be small and the façades close to the street to create a close-knit community.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • The couple chose their lot for the two majestic live-oak trees that shade the entire backyard.
    Photo By Grey Crawford
  • One of the homeowners’ wishes was a place for storing tools and equipment that didn’t scream “garden shed.”
    Photo By Grey Crawford

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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