Enhancing Outdoor Settings with Stone and Tile
With the desire for solid “curb appear” as a constant for all project types, many property owners, architects and designers devote a significant amount of planning to the exterior architecture of a residence or building. And no matter the style, size or budget of a project, there are stone or tile products available to suit any design requirement.
Giving proper consideration to the exterior of a home or commercial building makes sense on many levels. If quality materials such as stone and tile are used throughout an interior space, it is only logical that the outside of the structure reflects the same design standards. Exterior architecture sets the tone for the overall design. It presents the first impression as visitors arrive.
In the residential sector, for example, some homeowners are looking to make their backyard an extension of their home. They are seeking outdoor living spaces where they can relax, have fun and enjoy natural scenery. Stone and tile products are ideal for building timeless and long-lasting architectural elements such as patios, built-in barbecues and fireplaces - all of which enhance the overall aesthetics of a residence as well as providing a recreational area for the family.
A seamless transition
“I always consider it important to have a seamless relationship from the interior to the exterior,” said Michael P. Johnson of Michael P. Johnson Design Studio in Cave Creek, AZ. “I like to use the same material throughout.”
And the architect did just that when designing a 4,000-square-foot private upscale residence in Scottsdale, AZ. Imola Thassos white porcelain floor tile in 1- x 2-foot format flows throughout the home’s indoor and outdoor applications - maintaining a consistent overall design for the residence.
Further contributing to the seamless transition between the home’s interior living areas and its exterior elements are floor-to-ceiling glass doors that completely slide open - creating one cohesive open space. “When he has a party, all the doors open and it operates as one room,” said the architect.
The porcelain tile, which was given a polished finish for the interior, moves from the kitchen, living room, bedrooms and bathrooms to the pool deck and entry court. Johnson explained that when his client hosts his parties, he sets up food and beverage stations in various areas of the residence. “It’s almost like a resort,” he said. “All the rooms are accessible to everyone.”
In total, it took about three years to complete the house. This included a year from conception to permitting, a year for permitting and then a year for construction. And according to the architect, the large-format porcelain tiles were ideal for the outdoor architecture. “I have always had great success with porcelain tile,” said Johnson. “I have used it outside and never had problems.”
An outdoor “living room”
Taking advantage of their property’s pristine views was also part of the design goal for the homeowners of a private residence in Austin, TX, who desired an outdoor living space for their backyard. To capture the homeowners’ vision, regional limestone was used in developing the exterior architecture, according to Stewart Davis, Principal Architect and Design Director at CG&S Design-Build in Austin.
“After the homeowners had built a wonderful pool, they called us in and said that they needed outdoor living space, and they wanted to build a pool house,” said Davis. “The homeowner is a real outdoorsman. His freezer is filled with a lot of game, so he also wanted an area [outside] to cook.”
The architect went on to explain that CG&S Design-Build had done some previous work at the home. “We built arbors on the back of the house so the back patio was usable,” he said. “The back side faces the west. The sun is very intensive. The arbors gave them partial shade.”
The solution was to create a broad set of limestone steps that cascades down from the structure to the pool. The stone steps not only anchor the pool house to its natural surroundings, but they also match the existing stonework.
According to Davis, the design team was not involved in choosing the limestone for the project. “The stone was pre-selected for us,” he said. “The owner is in the construction business, and he wanted to use some of his own sub-contractors.
The architect also said that the Texas limestone utilized for the fireplace and outdoor kitchen was laid as a simulated dry stack. “That was a coursed stone,” he said. “The pieces were random sizes. That was pulled from the pool. They had done the spa wall that way.” Additionally, the same material was employed for the copings and column bases.
For the patios, the stone palette continues. Lueders limestone flagging, which exhibits the same warm tones as the other stone architecture, flows throughout the outdoor living space.
In the end, the pool house not only provided the function that the homeowners desired for their outdoor environment, but it also screened them from the neighboring residences. “It was intended to give a buffer,” said Davis. “The whole thing encloses the pool a bit.”
All those involved with the project were happy with the finished results. The homeowners are now able to swim, cook and relax comfortably in their backyard. “The views from there are beautiful,” said Davis. “The whole thing sits on a hilltop. You see a vista view from the south.”
With sweeping views of Red Rock Canyon and notable tenants such as City National Bank and TD Ameritrade, the Pavilion office building in Las Vegas has distinguished itself as a Class “A” facility. And in addition to the structure’s prime location on Charleston Boulevard in the Summerlin District, its attractive design - featuring an exterior skin of Turkish travertine - makes it stand above the rest.
“Although Las Vegas’ office market is tightening, Pavilion’s high-quality materials and upscale design set it apart from the competition,” stated Howard Thompson, Managing Principal of KKE Architects, Inc. in Las Vegas, the design firm for the project. “We had no intention of blending in. There was never a question of providing a superior building that would prescribe the highest standard for future development and establish the architectural tone for a whole new neighborhood.”
Diligent planning and research from the start were reasons for a successful design, according to Project Manager Alan Fox of KKE Architects. “The intention with Pavilion was to set the architectural tone for a new neighborhood rather than only look at the building for investment purposes,” he explained. “Careful research was conducted from the beginning to determine market competition, potential client demand and tenant expectations. This information supported the desire and need to build a quality, upgraded Class ‘A’ office building. A major design goal was to provide potential tenants with spectacular views, elegant surrounds and amenities that were different from any other building project in the area.”
“We decided to use two different finishes to create variation, contrast and interest in the design,” said the architect. Fox also explained that weekly site visits were made after the mock-ups were approved. “Meticulous general notes, details and product specifications were developed to provide proper installation instructions and standards,” he said.