Home and Lifestyle

4 awe-inspiring Madison outdoor spaces

These spaces create exterior envy

Hub of activity

Hub Madison on North Frances Street is quite a step up from average dorm life. This off-campus apartment complex for students has a long list of luxe amenities — including a golf simulator, yoga room, spa, game room and recording studio — but the best may be the outdoor spaces.

One outdoor area is a large quad-like courtyard in the center of the complex. The courtyard features multiple hammocks and floating bench areas underneath cabanas, a row of grills for cooking out with ample seating, plus a sand volleyball court complete with stadium-step seating and a huge projection screen. In the winter, the volleyball court turns into an ice rink.

The second outdoor space is on the roof. As if a rooftop pool isn’t high-end enough, the location offers an up-close view of the Capitol on one side and a dreamy panoramic look at Lake Mendota on the other.

“I really wanted to live at the Hub for the rooftop pool and for the workout/gym amenities,” says Hub resident Sydney Thern, a 21-year-old Edgewood College student. “Summers in Madison are beautiful, and I wanted to have a space with an outdoor pool for hanging out during the warmer months.”

Lakeside castle

Before renovations, this Maple Bluff home’s backyard was a safety hazard. The bluff side of the lot was badly eroded and the deck had nearly slipped into the lake.

When the parents of a young family decided it was time to make the outdoor space usable, they enlisted the help of The Bruce Company and landscape architect Steven Swenson. Since the house was located on a 50-foot-wide lot backing up to a steep bluff, the only way to bring materials to the site was by barge.

The seven-month project resulted in a multi-tiered space including a switchback stairway meandering down the bluff and connecting all four terraces, a castle-like curved concrete wall, a rain garden to capture water runoff, reflective lighting that illuminates the wall and walkway, plus a glass railing system allowing you to take full advantage of the lake views.

The project won gold for excellence in landscaping as well as the judge’s choice award in the Wisconsin Landscape Contractors Association 2017 Awards. “This was the first complex project that I had to champion by myself,” says Swenson. “It had the most challenges, but the greatest reward.”

Double-decker views

Why have one porch when you can have three? That could be the motto of Melanie Ignjatovic and Jeff Boldt’s west side home, which has undergone renovations that not only nearly doubled the space of the original house, but also added or renovated three screened-in porches — one in the back and two double-decker spaces facing the street.

“The feedback we get on the house — it’s funny,” says Ignjatovic. “Cars slow down.” The front side porches call for a double take.

A wooden slat privacy wall and cable railings create clean lines in this architectural gem in the Sunset Village neighborhood. Boldt, an engineer, helped design the house, along with Todd Barnett of Barnett Architecture and contractor Scott Krupp. The initial designs did not originally include the second-story porch, but it was eventually added to utilize the empty space. “

The views are dramatically different when you get up another 9, 10 feet,” says Barnett. Ignjatovic worried she’d never use the extra porch space, as she already loved spending time in the other lower-level two-season porches to sip morning coffee. “But it’s just so pretty being up this high,” she says.  

Home away from home

Mark and Tina Whalen’s summer home doesn’t only have curb appeal, it has lakeside appeal, too. This Waunakee couple’s backyard living space is a perfect summer getaway for them and their boys, ages 12 and 10.

The Whalens built the Prairie du Sac home 10 years ago on a lot that backs up to Gruber’s Grove Bay of Lake Wisconsin, where one friendly neighbor happens to be former Gov. Tommy Thompson. Mark and Tina designed their house themselves with the help of Heffron Homes, an architectural firm, and Bouril Design Studio, the builder.

An outdoor space was a must for the Whalens, who put in a spacious patio tucked beneath an overhang of a second-level sitting area. A built-in grill seems like a necessary element for when the Whalens host pool parties with the boys. At the right angle looking toward Lake Wisconsin, it looks as if the pool could flow right into the lake.

“We boat all the time and we pull [the boys] in tubes. They’re constantly begging for it,” Mark says. “The reason why this is so nice down here is that there are stumps down the river. Down here, it’s all clear, so people come down here to do all their skiing and tubing.” Almost out of view from the patio is a paved fire pit near the water’s edge. “You get a great view of all the fall colors, and we see some eagles, especially in the spring,” says Mark.

Andrea Behling is managing editor of Madison Magazine.


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