KC’s Own Favorite Spaces: Backyard Redesign

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Backyard Redesign

Susan Miller: Design Matters 

Proving that landscape design can be just as sumptuous as interior design, owner of Design Matters and interior designer, Susan Miller chose the backyard as her favorite space. The project canvas, consisting of 1¼ acres of highly treed land, presented challenges as well as provided unexpected delights at project fruition.

“My husband and I commenced on this in order to extend our living space into our outdoors in the summer of 2011. We wanted to improve the view from our bank of windows across the back of the house year round, and increasing our usage of the outdoor space and perhaps give us less yard to mow,” Miller explained.




The project included deconstructing a 35’ stacked stone wall and rebuilding it into a tiered serpentine wall, adding a fireplace with wood stack area, and adding steps leading both to the side yard and to the patio area. The ample number of walnut trees provides just enough of a canopy to let the perfect amount of sunshine pour down in glittering puddles of light.

“There are many reasons why this is my favorite space. For starters, the functionality that has been added for the outdoor living space lends it to a great place to enjoy a conversation for two or for entertaining large social gatherings under a canopy of trees. This space connects the deck leading out from the kitchen to the guest’s approach from the driveway into this serene setting. The fireplace also adds usage of the outdoor space in the cooler Midwest months of spring and fall.  In addition, there is something very comforting about heat generated from wood and the aroma is akin to a good home cooked meal,” Miller detailed.

Her background in interior design serves the overall creation of the space.



“Color and textures are important tools employed here in order to complete this space. The colors used are Tuscan red and caramel, tying in the stain and paint used on the deck materials to the pillows and cushions at the new seating area by the fireplace. The area is punctuated with white furniture and red flowers against the rich textures of the natural stone fireplace façade and dry stacked terraced serpentine stone wall,” she added.

Beyond the obvious usage of the space is the intrinsic value added as viewed from the heart of the home – through the band of windows across the kitchen and the window at the sink throughout the year, she thoughtfully shares.

“As an interior designer, I hold the view that the space we occupy has an impact on our human experience. For myself, this space has significant impact on me since I work from my home.”

This also equates to her philosophy regarding a business’s work space. “The interior design of the space your business occupies – is either an asset or a liability. It is the differentiator that affects employee morale, recruitment and your customer experience. The most valuable resource you have is your people and I do not forget that. The spaces I design are meant to support the occupants, not the other way around. Interior design is an evolving profession; as ways of doing business and emerging technologies change the ways in which we engage in our environments. What remains constant is that design matters – because people matter”.

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