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Outdoor flow
Whitefish Bay patio functions as natural extension of home

Photos by Tricia Shay

May 2016


The home’s kitchen extension, set behind the patio umbrella, inspired a two-tiered patio, which features a detailed balustrade made from reconstituted limestone and boxwood evergreens just below the upper deck.

With a need to elevate an outdoor living environment to match a newly created interior, Whitefish Bay homeowners conquered the challenge with the help of local landscape and architectural experts who know their way around creating seamless transitions.

Still, it was no small task for Mike Bohlen, president of The Secret Garden in Mequon, and Whitefish Bay-based Meg Baniukiewicz, whose design team also completed a kitchen addition as well as other interior improvements.

The result is a multilevel patio that provides a natural flow from the new kitchen to an outdoor grill and seating area and down to another patio — perfect for relaxing in front of a full-size fireplace and flat-screen TV.

"The client had a design they liked, so we used that as our base," Bohlen says. "They wanted everything to flow from kitchen to both outdoor levels. There were a lot of details."

With those details as a guide, the new patio landscape took shape. The upper patio is encased in a balustrade with nuances that mimic the home’s 1920s history and architecture, created from reconstituted limestone added to cement and other additives. Clay pavers with a limestone inlay "carpet" surface both patios, and with a heat system under the surface, they easily melt snow and ice.


A fireplace centered on a pergola provides an outdoor family room. The TV fits nicely into a niche that closes with custom wood shutters.

Municipal code requires the pergola and fireplace be attached to the home. The flat-screen TV got its own details, including a cover and a shutter for its niche above the fireplace.

With all that in place, Bohlen says greens and colorful plantings lining the balustrade and carefully placed throughout the rest of the compact yard were relatively minimalistic, with boxwoods mixing with hydrangeas, hostas and dragon wing begonias. Additional color is placed in strategically placed pots.

"The family really wanted that natural outdoor extension from the kitchen," Baniukiewicz says. "It worked out very well." M


This story ran in the May 2016 issue of: