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This mid-century home in Newport Beach, Calif., went from traditional to modern with a backyard update featuring ipe wood retaining walls, poured-in-place concrete seating, and an arbor made of powder-coated steel. An innovative shade structure features automated louvers that can be adjusted according to the position of the sun to provide the right amount of filtered light. The louvers as well as a water feature and fire pit can be operated remotely using an iPad, taking advantage of the latest home control technology.

Key features:
Automated louvers
Ipe retaining walls
Remote control operation
Built-in seating

Ipe wood was also used on this project to create a contemporary pool deck with more warmth than a typical concrete deck. The pool is accessed through large sliding glass doors that open onto a long terrace with an integrated gas fire feature that doubles as a barbeque. Built-in seating areas surround the pool, including a monolithic concrete bench that runs lengthwise between the terrace and pool and two wood benches on the opposite side accented by brightly colored cushions. The deck also houses an automatic pool cover and is compartmentalized to provide storage for cushions and the kids' toys.

Key features:
Ipe decking
Brightly colored seating
Automatic pool cover

This renovation of an outdated backyard pool and patio is brimming with cutting-edge design features including a perimeter overflow spa with a contemporary black Hydrazzo marble finish. The walls of the spa are wrapped in black glass mosaic tiles that shimmer as the water passes over them. Glass mosaic tiles were also used for the pool’s baja shelf and steps. On the far side of the new spa, is a large patio and gas fire pit accessed by concrete steppers that appear to be floating in the shallow end of the pool. The pool's original diving board was replaced with a 10-foot stone diving platform flanked by two powerfalls and a pair of raised planters.

Key features:
In-ground spa
Baja shelf
Swimming pool waterfalls

This small backyard was turned into party central with the addition of a 6-foot-long fire trough surrounded by a custom seat wall with enough room to accommodate over a dozen people. The project also incorporated an outdoor hot tub surrounded by low step walls topped by solid stone to create a permanent enclosure. For late-night dining, a roof-covered outdoor kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops features light fixtures hidden under the countertops to create evening ambiance

Key features:
Outdoor hot tub
Outdoor fire trough
Custom landscape lighting
Covered outdoor kitchevn

This small urban backyard serves as a contemporary extension to a modern home. Because the backyard is almost completely surrounded by four-story buildings, privacy was a primary concern. The solution was to install tall ipe paritions and opaque glass panels that permit filtered sunlight. The yard also features a permeable paver patio with an attractive graphic pattern, a concrete fountain made with recycled glass, and an in-ground fire pit that reflects in the glass panels. The gas-burning fire pit is filled with ceramic fire spheres that provide a nice contrast to the square shapes throughout the garden. The home’s living room doors can be slid open to create a seamless indoor-outdoor connection.

Key features:
Backyard partitions made of ipe and glass panels
Permeable paver patio
Modern outdoor fountain
Seamless access through sliding doors
In-ground fire pit

Get more ideas for creating a modern backyard:
Eight dos and don'ts for modern landscape design
Plants for a modern garden

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