Backyard Landscaping Gives Bungalow Home Style and Function

When Rick Partridge and Jack Black purchased the 1916 Arts and Crafts Bungalow in San Jose’s Hanchett Park in 2005, they finally found a home for the period Stickley furniture they had been collecting for more than two decades.

Backyard Brick Wall - Backyard Landscaping Gives Bungalow Home Style and Function

But the backyard was another story. An awkward triangular deck off the back bedroom was a safety hazard with steep stairs and an overgrown hedge along the driveway split the small backyard in two. The homeowners were big entertainers and wanted a space that worked for parties of 100, as well as an intimate space for two to lounge around the hot tub.

“Jack and I both grew up in the south, where you turn the AC on from March ’til October,” Rick said. Now that California was their home, they wanted to take advantage of outdoor living. (And they also wanted a place for their hammock.)

The solution? Bring in a friend and neighbor, architectural designer Steve Hinderberger of Hindesign. The first order of business was to rip out the hedges.

Flagstone Patio - Backyard Landscaping Gives Bungalow Home Style and Function

“That was the most dramatic,” Hinderberger said. “It opened up the space and you could see the potential.”

They decided to keep all the trees, especially the Chinese Pistache in the middle of the yard.

“It became a centerpoint and things radiate out around it,” he said. And that meant designing a series of outdoor rooms, from formal to casual.

He started by replacing the old deck at the back of the house with a new, larger one made of dense Ipe wood, and gave a sense of enclosure with brick planters. A few steps down is the semi-circular dining patio. Hinderberger unearthed some of the original stones that had sunken and re-used them for the patio.

Replica Stove - Backyard Landscaping Gives Bungalow Home Style and Function

Pavers were used along the driveway to make it feel more like a patio than a driveway, and a built-in barbecue was installed near the back kitchen door. (Another neighbor, interior designer Madeleine Randal, transformed the inside white kitchen from what Partridge called an “operating room” into an updated space with grey soapstone counters and seaform blue backsplashes.)

The focal point of the backyard is the arbor at the back corner of the yard surrounded by soft landscaping. During the Hanchett Park Home Tour in late May, Partridge and Black hung a bright red swing from the arbor (their answer to the hammock.) But the arbor also serves as a frame for an ever-changing feature.

“Even in the plans, we put ‘sculptural element here,’” Hinderberger said. “It becomes almost a stage to highlight something of interest. They change it at least once every year, so it’s kind of fun to see what’s going to be there.” Partridge and Black have swapped out a fountain, a sculpture and a large planted urn under the arbor over the years.

Backyard - Backyard Landscaping Gives Bungalow Home Style and Function

“It’s kind of fun when you have a design concept, but what becomes really great is when the client embraces that and lives that,” Hinderberger said. “We were very in sync.”

Perhaps the most meaningful focal point of all came when Partridge and Black exchanged wedding vows in a ceremony surrounded by friends. Under the arbor were framed the groom and groom.

Julia -

Hinderberger, of San Jose, can be reached at

(Photos by Desiree Northend)

Related stories:
Craftsman Bungalow Stays Tiny After Big Makeover
Spanish Style Bungalow Home
Gentle Remodel on Bungalow
Spanish-Style Bungalow Gets Soho-Chic Kitchen
Home with a Dining Room Fireplace
Rustic Kitchen Remodel
More Hanchett Homes on the Tour

Here’s the complete slideshow:

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