A modern rooftop garden in Queen Anne designed using custom pieces and (faux) foliage.
For their roofdeck in Queen Anne, our clients wanted the tranquility of a traditional Japanese garden interpreted in a modern aesthetic. We began with a designing a floor plan with defined zones for different flooring heights and materials. Pebbles, referenced from traditional gardens, fill in the recessed areas of the floor plan.
We designed the thick custom metal edging to define the space, giving it a graphic, modern look. Off the shelf edging is available, however, we needed the borders thicker for a more substantial look, and it was necessary to have the finish match the other metal elements in the design. A large 5 foot diameter circular planter that holds different sized round topiaries and a perforated steel bench (powdercoated black to match the edging) were custom made to create a seating area within the pebbled area. The bench cushion partially covers the bench seat, which creates a surface area for drinks to be set next set to it. The cushion is unattached to the bench, allowing for it to be easily aired out. The final floor plan helps create a relaxed, meandering flow, by using low pieces that open up views and avoid overwhelming the eye.
Another requirement was that the design needed to be very low maintenance. To this end, we made use of strategically placed faux foliage. Hedge mats were used along all the parapet walls to conceal the metal panels an give the illusion of continuous hedges. Faux ball topiaries in varying sizes fill the round steel planter, creating a centerpiece to gather around. The steel planter is very low, so that it doesn’t obstruct the city views all around, or take away from the faux hedges at the perimeter. An L-shaped sectional composed of individual chair pieces was chosen to maximize seating without introducing additional seating types, which helps support an uncluttered look. With this seating type, there is also the flexibility of creating different configurations for different types of gatherings. Opposite the sectional is the grill, with plenty of space between to allow guests to comfortably circulate.
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One of the few decorative elements in this project is functional as well - a pair of globe light fixtures, as seen in the project progress photo above. Solar and/or rechargeable cordless lighting was a must, so we selected rechargeable LED outdoor globe lights that could be moved around the deck, or even placed among the round topiaries or even on the custom bench. These globe lights are from Design Within Reach and come in three different sizes. We also like the portable option below from Menu, it’s rechargeable and the rotating handle allows for it to be hung on a wall like a sconce.
Lastly, a heat source was a must for the clients to enjoy the chilly summer evenings here in the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures can drop to the 50s in the middle of summer. They chose a concrete version, a great choice as it mirrors the long lines of their sectional. The propane tank is hidden inside, reducing visual clutter. For simple options requiring no connections (but best for a ground floor garden or yard rather than a rooftop), I like these two simple pieces, a firepit with optional grill, and the other, a round fire bowl.