Designer Spotlight: Nick McCullough

Creating Family Backyard Spaces



Nick McCullough


I designed the backyard patio to be a versatile space, without any elements or dividing features forcing a particular layout. Its long, linear shape allowed us to create different zones with a lot of flexibility. With Country Casual Teak, we created three zones: lounge, dining and fire pit. Having the lounge areas, separated by the dining table, created a variety of spaces. The adults could hang out in one area and then the kids could be in a different one. It also allows the conversation to move throughout the evening.

I selected furniture with strong, modern lines to reference the clean lines and modern design of the patio and surrounding gardens. The Casita teak sofa is low and deep, for relaxed conversation. Since I focused on strong lines, I easily mixed the Casita sofa with a pair of Hudson lounge chairs. I added a mixture of neutral, textural pillows that allow the gardens to drive the color story. To add additional softness to the modern lines of the Casita teak sofa and Hudson lounge chairs, and tie the seating area into the gardens, I placed containers around the furniture. A series of four hornbeams were planted within the patio for shade and are an architectural element that provides a sense of enclosure while on the patio.

Around the fire pit, I placed four Aspen Adirondack chairs. Aspen’s modern take on the classic Adirondack design provides comfort, with the modern lines referencing the design of the surrounding gardens. Adding a fire pit gives natural movement between each of the areas throughout an evening. These chairs are also versatile and can be moved to add more seating with the Casita sofa or on the lawn for watching the kids play.



Scale is everything when it comes to planters, and to make a big statement, you need a big planter. The Studio 36” planter allows us to dream big. In the planters we used six-foot tall Dawn Redwood trees with an under planting of Plectranthus, ornamental peppers and New Look Dusty Miller. The clean lines of the planters play well with our modern aesthetic and could work well in many situations.

When thinking about your own space there are several things to consider:

Tip #1: Think about the area in entertainment zones. Where do you want to have your morning coffee? Where will people sit while enjoying a drink on the terrace? How many people do you generally entertain? Once you answer these questions it will help you determine the flow of the space and how much seating you will need. Around our house we plan for 8-10 at any given time.

Tip #2: Don’t forget the planters. Planters need to be incorporated into the flow of the space and can be added to create separation between two spaces or to help bring the garden closer to the patio. Remember, scale is everything!

Tip #3: When I design a garden I think about the rooms. I utilize hedges/walls to create garden rooms and add mystery in the garden. Additionally, in each room I add a seating area. Even if it is as simple as a bench to sit and take in the garden, it is important to have destination points to stop and enjoy the space.


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