Date: March 17, 2018 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Rett Peek |
Designer Kevin Walsh partners with Adrienne and Brad Taylor of the Nature Company to create a backyard setting that reflects his home’s interiors and personal style
“Our outdoor area is really an extension of our home,” says designer Kevin Walsh of Little Rock’s Bear Hill Interiors. Located just off the kitchen and family room, the backyard space plays host to family dinners, Sunday afternoon naps, and impromptu gatherings of friends for he and his partner, Brett Pitts. “Whenever it’s nice weather we throw the doors open, and we are in and out,” Kevin says. “I’m out a lot because I like to work in the yard and putter about,” he adds.
For more than 25 years—and on three houses of his own—Kevin has worked with Adrienne Taylor and her husband, Brad, owners of The Nature Company, when it comes to planning and plotting gardens. “[Kevin] is so wonderful to work with because he really trusts us, and we like a lot of the same things,” Adrienne says of the relationship. Case in point: the abundance of English boxwoods that fill the garden because they are a favorite of the two. “I really enjoy the ‘controlled messiness’ that they bring to the design,” Adrienne says.
Beyond the green plantings, the outdoor room features an abundance of blue and white, two of Kevin’s favorite colors. “The color palette is also an extension of our home. Not everything is blue and white indoors, but they are two of the hues we’ve layered into the overall design to make it feel cohesive from interior to exterior,” he says.
“Adrienne knows I want pretty but low-maintenance,” Kevin says of the design scheme. “I had an English garden with lots of perennials at my old house, and it was so pretty but it was so much work.” In this residence, large trees in the backyard provide abundant shade; however, they limit the growth of lush grass. To eliminate the worry over growing and maintaining a lawn, the couple laid flagstone to create a terrace. Boston ivy, English boxwoods, and ferns provide the green that one might expect to see underfoot. The flagstone, which matches the home’s exterior, also furthers the feeling that the space is an extension of the home. “Don’t be fooled though; there’s still plenty to be done with all of our containers and shrubs,” Kevin says.
Set for Sunrise
Kevin and Brett are both known for their ability to whip together a casual brunch or dinner party at a moment’s notice. “We are both cooks, so it’s not unusual for us to have friends over and entertain in this space,” Kevin says. Here, a colorful breakfast is set on Royal Doulton’s “Real Old Willow.” This pattern belonged to Brett’s mother and was handed down to him. “His mom absolutely adored this china and would be thrilled that we use it so much,” Kevin adds.
Just as Kevin and Brett enjoy the vintage china that was passed down to them, they also like to pick up finds at antique stores and flea markets. The pair of chairs seen here are a French modern set that Kevin purchased in Dallas, while the turtle-shaped planters at the edge of the steps are a find from a Charlottesville, Virginia, antique shop. White geraniums in both galvanized planters and blue-and-white containers are an addition that help the space transition easily into summer when the tulips begin to fade.
The Relaxation Spot
An outdoor furniture set, which Kevin and Brett have had for a number of years, provides a spot to prepare for the day with a fresh cup of coffee or to unwind with friends after a long week. “I’ve taken many a nap on that sofa, and our dogs always love to be out there with us to rest,” Kevin says. The garden stools are an artistic addition that Kevin calls “traditional and modern at the same time” due to their form and coloration. The row of azaleas seen at the fence line has filled in over the 20 years that the couple have lived in the home. Adrienne notes that the shrub helps to enclose the space and provide color.
Design Kevin Walsh, Bear Hill Interiors
Landscape design and installation Adrienne and Brad Taylor, The Nature Company
Accessories Bear Hill Interiors
Plantings (tulips) Hocott’s Garden Center