Issaquah Highlands Modern: A Closer Look

For this project, our clients had several objectives for their backyard resort. The main vision for the space was to create a courtyard effect with a feeling of enclosure. They desired to maintain a sense of privacy while still being able to enjoy their home’s breathtaking Pacific Northwest view. Another important aspect of the final backyard resort for our client was to keep it family-friendly and implement elements that were both sophisticated and kid-friendly. Finally, the most important design objective was to bring the modern and contemporary style of their home outdoors.
The house’s exterior mainly consisted of dark siding and wood elements and a rigid structure showing off all three levels, so our client requested that this style show through in the design plan. In addition, incorporating several elements that were already in place--such as a wooden pergola just outside the back door--was important to the family. Thus, our designer made sure to keep these in the final design plan. At Alderwood, our main goal is to ensure that a client's dream backyard resort comes to life, so our team of professionals kept these desires at the forefront of their minds throughout the duration of construction.


Every Alderwood project comes with its own set of unique challenges. This project was no different with several complications: a tight budget, the desire for enclosure and views and to create separate spaces that flowed together as if they were one. Perhaps the most intricate part of the design process was creating a space that had the courtyard effect the family wanted while still leaving their stunning view easily visible. To make this happen, we bordered the landscape with several shrubs, colorful perennials, and small trees.
We chose to place a combination of small Japanese maple and snowbell trees at the edge of the property to provide the perfect balance of privacy and height. We also made sure to include plenty of natural and LED lighting so that the enclosure was well lit. In order to ensure the fireplace area, dining space and recreational portions of the yard flowed together, we used several small shrubs and short ornamental grasses. These aptly broke up the space without obstructing the view.

Client Involvement

Every step of the way, our team worked closely with the family to ensure the process was turning out exactly how they hoped. With an open line of communication, our clients were able to be as involved as they wanted throughout the process and add any features or elements they desired as the costs panned out. Since this family watched their budget very closely, we made several revisions to the design as we went per the clients’ request and our landscape architect's recommendations.


This backyard resort contains several specially designed elements, each exhibiting the intended modern and linear design: a Corten Steel fireplace, rock water feature and large climbing rocks for the children’s space. Our clients’ favorite is the water feature, which was formed from a trilogy of columnar basalt rocks and water that cascades down each side. The goal of this rock sculpture was to implement the linear lines from the modern design of the house. Maintaining the contemporary lines and darker colors while bringing in natural rock contrasts the bold concrete elements of the patio and house. It also breaks up the space to add interest to viewers’ eyes.
Both the fireplace and climbing rocks reiterate this contemporary design, but the climbing rocks are the most original. With young children, our clients wanted to incorporate some play features into the modern design elements. The resulting “jumping rocks” that our team created used an existing gravel bed and kid-friendly structures but reiterated the design theme. Overall, these elements took what would have been a nicely landscaped yard and turned it into a dream backyard resort.

    While this Alderwood project included several unique components from open-concept designing to family-friendly-yet modern spaces, the finished artistry was better than what our client could have imagined. As requested, the final landscape offers privacy and includes both adult and kid-friendly spaces that easily flow together. The space is pulled together with a beautiful water feature focal point that draws eyes towards the magnificent view on the horizon.
    From the modern design to the inclusion of natural details, this project resulted in several eye-catching elements that our clients are sure to enjoy for years to come.

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