From the August/September 2023 Issue  

Backyard Escape

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Marco Ricca  |  Location Upper Saddle River, NJ  |  DESIGN/BUILD LANDSCAPE CLC Landscape Design  |  PAVILION DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION S Scott Construction and Design  |  FURNITURE SELECTION, LAYOUT & FINISHES Jennifer Pacca, ALLIED MEMBER ASID

An at-home getaway with all the makings of a five-star resort

Upon completing all the interior spaces of their Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, home with help from Jennifer Pacca Interiors in Wyckoff, homeowners Vida Mylson and Eric Weiner decided to “continue the vibe on their patio,” Pacca says.

The heated pavilion boasts a stone woodburning fireplace, knotted-pine-covered ceiling and chic all-weather furnishings and accents that rival indoor-quality comfort and style. Colors derived from the stone — in a combination of earthy gray and warm golden hues — inspired the room’s color palette, designer Jennifer Pacca says. Textured woven chairs and a stone cocktail table “balance the heavily textured stone of the fireplace,” she adds.

“The outdoor project started when the family of four decided they needed an alternative to traveling vacations or to enjoy a resort experience any day of the week,” says Pacca, a state-certified interior designer and allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers. “Whether it be a place to relax, eat, hang with friends, watch sports on TV or even take a work Zoom call, the design needed to be multifunctional and to look and feel like an outdoor haven.”

Pacca collaborated with design/build firm CLC Landscape Design and a team of professionals to create the outdoor retreat, encompassing designated areas for cooking, dining, entertaining or relaxing in durable, stylish settings that weather the elements. The outdoor kitchen — equipped with such features as a large grill, sink, refrigerator and granite-topped island — “perfectly suits the owners’ entertaining needs,” Pacca says. A built-in, stone-encased pizza oven area completes the gourmet kitchen experience.

Entertaining needs are met with a sizable island where the homeowners can cook, prep and mingle in the outdoor kitchen, Pacca says. The granite countertop and stainless-steel cabinets are “super durable to weather the elements.” A large outdoor grill, sink, refrigerator and pizza oven — flanked by additional stone surfaces for pizza prep — round out the gourmet kitchen vibe.

“My husband, Eric, loved the idea of making pizza and having kids join in on the fun,” Mylson says. While his first year of making pizza “was humbling, for sure … he’s very excited for year two!”

The same stone used to construct the pizza oven reappears in the covered pavilion’s woodburning fireplace. “This helps unify the spaces and pull the color palette through the entire outdoor area,” Pacca explains. The pavilion is a great place to curl up by the fire or catch a game on television, and it’s heated so the owners can use it late into fall, she says. A separate seating area sheltered by a large umbrella doubles as an ideal gathering spot for the entire family or as a quiet place to work from home.

“We envisioned a piece very sculptural and solid to define and anchor the dining space,” Pacca says of the 10-foot-long dining table with a light gray concrete top and teak base. “The woven fabric of the chairs is a beautiful juxtaposition to the hard concrete.”

The client’s love of neutral colors influenced the design scheme’s black, white and tan palette. “It’s an ultra-sophisticated counterpoint” to all the greenery of the landscaping and raw materials of the outdoor kitchen, Pacca says. The organic, architectural shapes of the furniture help define each space, coupled with resilient stone cocktail tables and chunky woven lounge chairs that add texture. Teak “adds just the right amount of warmth to the black-and-white scheme,” Pacca says.

Sheltered by a large umbrella, this multifunctional seating area is an ideal spot to work from home or gather with family. The comfy, visually pleasing setting beckons the homeowners to come out of the house and savor moments outdoors.

All the attention to detail translates to happy clients. “We designed our backyard to not only expand our living space and create a relaxing and beautiful environment to entertain friends and family, but also to bring the feeling of being away to our home,” Mylson says. “During the spring and summer, we spend most of our nights outside using the pizza oven, the barbecue and especially the living room in the pavilion to watch movies and shows together as a family.”

Editor’s Note: Jennifer Pacca won a 2023 Gold Design Excellence Award for this project in the Outdoor Living Spaces category from the American Society of Interior Designers, New Jersey Chapter.