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When homeowner Greg Southard first envisioned his property’s outdoor living space, he could never have guessed just how important the concept of home would become for so many of us living through the coronavirus pandemic. Now, more than ever, people are realizing how necessary it is to have a space to relax and unplug from the day, whether it’s a cozy corner, a bedroom sanctuary, or some sort of outdoor living. In the case of the Southard residence, this Amesbury waterfront property is not lacking when it comes to outdoor options for unwinding. 

Southard, who is also the owner of Riverfront Landscape and Design, says that there are several unique elements about the overall outdoor design of his home. For one, “mature, naturalized plantings define the landscape while still allowing it to look like they might have always been there,” says Southard, who emphasizes that “preserving the natural habitat and being sensitive to the environment was a priority” of the design. 

To accompany the outdoor space’s expansive views of the Merrimack River, all of the design elements were selected to complement the natural landscape and organic feeling of the grounds. Keeping indigenous stones like blue stone and river rocks as part of the design was an intentional choice that helps make the outdoor kitchen and dining areas feel as though they’re a natural extension of the landscape.

When it came time to consider shrubbery, it was decided that dwarf conifers and evergreens would help provide structure and define the space without compromising views of the river. 

The process of selecting durable design elements was an important one in this outdoor space. Aesthetics were also central, but everything had to be highly functional and weather resistant in order to make the final cut.

The home’s outdoor kitchen features stainless cabinetry made for outdoor living by Brown Jordan. A natural brick underfoot lends warmth and color to the cooking and dining areas. The kitchen’s Lynx appliances, from a 36” grill with Rotisserie to the power burner and sink were all selected for their sturdiness and functionality. 

The outdoor kitchen countertops are honed granite and feature outlets for blenders and other kitchen accessories, while two Kamado grills provide spaces for additional grilling. With nary a detail overlooked, the spaces features a series of potted herbs kept close by to supplement a vegetable garden on the grounds that provides fresh produce all season long.

Tasteful but subtle outdoor lighting allows for cooking and gathering to continue long after the sun has set. Once dinner is done, drinks can be enjoyed by the fire pit area, which boasts a natural iron fire pit and is outfitted with blue stone and outdoor furniture as well as a retractable umbrella that provides shade as needed. 

A small outdoor house, lovingly dubbed the Shibui house (Shibui is a Japanese word that honors a simple and subtle aesthetic) features a natural stone floor, an overhead fan for summer nights and a fireplace for winter use. The Shibui house doors open wide to create a feeling of bringing the outdoors in and the house itself is situated to take full advantage of the views of the water and the dock, where Adirondack chairs beckon to guests.

Southard says his favorite time of day to enjoy the space is at sunset. “It is hard to beat the views of the river that change with the seasons,” he says. And while a summertime sunset is hard to top, in winter, “there is a sense of calm and tranquility.” Ice floes and a series of abundant wildlife from seals to nesting eagles can be spotted. 

“Landscape is living space that just happens to be outdoors,” says Southard, and this space, an extension of the home’s beautiful interior design, is a testament to that. The space truly brings the indoors outside, with everything the homeowners need for cooking, dining, relaxing, and more.