Patio at a Glance
Who lives here: A writer, a filmmaker and their two children
Location: Portland, Oregon
Size: 1,200 square feet (111 square meters)
Designer: Michael Howells of Howells Architecture + Design
It’s unconventional to begin a patio story with a photo of a kitchen, but this is where the seeds of the backyard renovation were sown. Howells suggested combining the kitchen with an adjacent library, because besides filling the library’s bookshelves with beloved books, the couple rarely used the space. They had admired a hotel dining room lined with bookshelves that they’d visited on a Scandinavian trip, so they were excited about a combination kitchen-library. The kitchen’s eating area now feels like a cozy European cafe, where they can grab a favorite book to enjoy with a cup of coffee.
After getting to know what his clients liked, Howells proposed a bold color palette for the kitchen — lemon-bar yellow on the millwork and cabinets, and beautiful blue 3-by-9-inch tiles from Heath Ceramics for the backsplash. His courageous clients were on board as soon as he proposed it. Knowing their appreciation for books, the architect stacked the backsplash tiles vertically to hint at stacks of book spines.
As the kitchen started to come together, Howells and his clients took a look out its windows and doors at the backyard. They agreed it was a good time to establish a strong relationship between indoors and out. Look to the right side of this photo, then through the doors to the blue-and-yellow planter to see the relationship between the kitchen and the outdoor space.