A Prairie Village Backyard Becomes a Stylish Retreat Designed for Outdoor Living

A variety of surfaces define the expansive outdoor living space. All photos by Aaron Leimkuehler.

In 1954, Elvis Presley released his first single, That’s All Right. The frozen TV dinner debuted. And this California way cool ranch was built in Prairie Village. 

By the time Bob Lindeblad moved in, the interior needed a refresh. In 2015, he was ready to tackle the exterior. As a landscape architect trained at Kansas State, and with experience as a city planner, Lindeblad knew he wanted to keep the streamlined midcentury-modern feel. Now with the civil engineering firm BHC Rhodes, Lindeblad “felt too close to the ¾-acre space. I needed another pair of eyes to help design it.” He called on Kurt Kraisinger of Lorax Design Group to “do it once and do it right.” 

A solitary Japanese maple shades one of the flower beds.

They mapped out three zones. The expansive patio, the shady pergola, and the raised bed garden. Using soft, lightly toned aggregate for the patio surface, dark ipe wood for the decking, and custom concrete for the firepit and built-in planting beds, the look references 1950s California ranch. Lindeblad scoured the outdoor living site Potted in Los Angeles for the right look and found the chartreuse-y hoop chairs now arranged around the firepit.

Lindeblad oils the ipe wood deck once a year to retain the mellow, dark color of the wood. A bowl of succulents on the dining table requires little care for lots of color.

“I love to entertain,” Lindeblad says, so the patio/deck features an outdoor kitchen with a bar, a dining area, and seating around a trough-shaped firepit. “It’s the focal point. Everybody always gathers around it,” as they did for his Super Bowl party last February. The big concrete planter, centered by a small coral bark Japanese maple, holds perennials in his favorite blue, yellow, and orange attracting birds and butterflies.

Lindeblad’s favorite hues of orange and blue are sprinkled throughout the flower beds, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds. In the pergola’s seating area, a wall of bamboo provides privacy and shade. The outdoor aluminum-framed sectional from CB2 serves as a gathering place for guests watching the flat-screen TV that’s mounted on the opposite wall.

Around the property, plants in pots or pots as tables, some from PolyStone Planters in Kansas City, Kansas, can be moved around easily. 

For the pergola, Lindeblad wanted “something that is never going to fall down.” Asheer Akram of Kansas City Metalworks, who is both sculptor and metalsmith, fashioned a modern take on an age-old design. Under the filtered light from the pergola, Lindeblad planted ferns, hydrangea, and boxwood. He found the colorful pillows for the CB2 sectional at Costco. “The Great Wall of Bamboo,” as Lindeblad calls it, screens this area from the neighbors.

Strands of string lights crisscross the deck, providing accent lighting for evening gatherings. Large limestone slabs outline the curves of the flower beds.

In the kitchen garden of raised cedar beds, Lindeblad grows new potatoes, lettuces, asparagus, and all the summer vegetables. He can then fire up his Lion grill and offer dinner guests his signature pork tenderloin, grilled vegetables, and a salad, from plot to plate.

In the garden’s raised beds, lettuces, tomatoes, dill, and squash thrive.

In a time of social distancing, the backyard has been a bright spot. “I work on the patio a lot,” he says. “As a business development person, I was used to taking people to events all over town, but when the pandemic hit, that was all shut off,” says Lindeblad. “Just recently, I started inviting clients and business friends—just one to four people—for coffee or happy hour on my patio. It’s been very successful and so much better than just looking at someone on the computer screen.” 

The garden includes a variety of colorful flowers including Clematis and David Austin roses.

The It List

Lodder Concrete LLC

Landscape Design
Lorax Design Group

Kansas City Metalworks

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