A formal garden with bluestone paths, planters, and fountain, surrounded by trees
A formal garden outside the master bedroom has bluestone paths edged with boxwood, a few large planters, and a boldly geometric fountain whose trickling water masks street noise. Mature hickory, oak, and maple trees shade the yard. Photo Gallery »

When practically every room in your home has glass patio doors that open onto a large deck and a beautiful wooded backyard, it’s a shame not to use those doors. But for this Riverwoods couple, “the house stopped with the interiors—they weren’t using the outside at all,” says Barbara Ince, design director of Susan Fredman Design Group. “There was such a clear need for integration between inside and out.”

Together with the landscaping firm Scott Byron & Co., Ince achieved just that, using the house’s contemporary aesthetic and the locations of the interior rooms to guide the exterior layout. The indoor kitchen overlooks a fully weatherized outdoor one; the dining room overlooks its alfresco counterpart; the family room overlooks a similar gathering spot on the deck; the master bedroom overlooks a private-feeling space with a fountain and formal garden.

The outdoor palette is simple—predominantly white and green—and the flow of the landscape is thoughtful and user-friendly. Boxwood hedges and bluestone pavers (some irregularly cut, some crisply rectangular) lead the eye from an orderly area near the entrance gate to a more casual space near the outdoor lounge at the opposite end of the yard.

These days, “the owners use this space all the time,” says Ince. How could they not?


Photograph: Nick Novelli

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Designer: Barbara Ince, Susan Fredman Design Group, 350 W. Erie St., 312-587-8150, susanfredman.com. Landscape design: Scott Byron & Co., Lake Bluff, 847-689-0266, scottbyron.com. Furnishings: Furniture, cushions, faux bois bench, Janus et Cie, janusetcie.com. Bar stools, Sutherland, Merchandise Mart, 312-205-7700, sutherlandfurniture.com. Grill and warming drawer, Wolf. Refrigerator, Sub-Zero. Countertops, brushed granite. Cabinets, marine-grade custom teak, through Fredman. Millwork: Joseph Woodworking, 4226 Grace St., Schiller Park, 847-233-9766, josephwoodworking.com.