Constructing a garden on a narrow, windy, exposed 6th story terrace might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But for our firm, there was one undeniable appeal – it offered an incredible view of the bustling River North neighborhood and beyond to the world-famous Chicago skyline.

Our clients, a young family, desired an extension of their living space to take advantage of the fresh air, relative quiet and amazing views available outside their door. But this space was much too valuable to simply do with a collection of resin chairs, an unstable umbrella and withered geraniums in green plastic pots.

Instead, we began by visually dividing the space between the dining area and the lounge area through use of patterned natural stone and sealed cedar decking. Both sections were raised slightly for drainage purposes as well as visual interest. A retractable awning was erected over the dining area to establish a feeling of enclosure and provide needed UV and wind protection, and a framed willow screen backdrop was lit from below to provide drama and interest.

The lounge area features combination bench/storage units, covered with cushions and pillows. Grasses extend behind the lounge against the screening wall, and are lit from below to dramatic effect.

Planter boxes throughout the space feature hardy pines and native serviceberry for year-round interest and structure. Railing planters and containers hold mixed flowering annuals and grasses. All boxes are irrigated, and major plantings are enhanced by up-lighting. Mechanicals are hidden behind a locking, hinged screen.

Lastly, all-weather carpets direct foot traffic and are adhered to the concrete base by means of a continuous frame backing system.

The result is that our clients truly have a “living room in the city.”

Photography ©2006 Linda Oyama Bryan. Used by permission

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