Steel in the Modern Outdoor Environment
The new quintessential element in the outdoor living space is steel. It takes an outdoor space to the next level by adding a touch of modern sophistication and sustainability.
Using steel is Cheri Stringer’s latest passion. Stringer is the principal partner and lead designer at TLC Gardens design build firm in Colorado. For almost 20 years, Cheri Stringer and the TLC team have been on a mission to create outdoor environments that connect their clients to nature, have lasting value, and spark joy.
Now, her team is harnessing the strength and adaptability of steel in their outdoor renovations and in the new signature line of TLC Steel products.
“Steel elevates our client’s lives,” says Cheri. “It brings enjoyment and a sophisticated elegance to the outdoor living experience.”
Designing with steel allows landscape designers to integrate aesthetic and functional features from design to construction. I also elevates the impact in the end design.
Steel is good for framing, creating transition, textural contrast, compression, playfulness, artistic functionality, privacy and enhancement of view corridors and flow patterns, to name a few uses.
The steel and wood moon gate crafted for TLC’s Söng Ranch project is a stunning example of steel’s multidimensional uses.
In this unique outdoor environment, the custom steel and cedar moon gate frames the Tai Chi studio space, emphasizing the transition between public practice space and the client’s private residence.
The steel structure underlying the wood reinforces the moon shape and creates a view corridor of the natural boulder water feature within.
At TLC’s Gallagher Farm project, the deep window wells along the edge of the home posed a steep drop-off in the backyard.
During the renovation, the window wells were reinforced with custom designed steel walls and outlined with stone, separating them from the outdoor living area.
A steel pergola was added, establishing an intimate outdoor dining area and terrace where the client’s grandchildren can run and play safely in the finished space.
On this site, the custom steel elements were fabricated with raw steel and treated with muriatic acid for an even patina and a rustic appeal, accentuating the home’s modern farmhouse style.
TLC integrated a matching steel utility enclosure, customized to block the trash cans from view while also dampening sound for added privacy. The steel utility enclosure has a sculptural effect while also acting as a solution in the design.
When designing and building with steel, consider sheet thickness and tensile strength for structural endurance. For instance, the center piece of the moon gate was thinner gauge steel for added flexibility to fit the moon curve.
Alternatively, the steel utility enclosure required a thick, durable gauge steel to be able to add insulation from road noise.
At Hilltop Courtyard, the steel pergola was designed for a small, modern courtyard to create a welcoming, family gathering space.
The adaptability of steel empowers designers to customize pergolas, planters, fire pits and other unique features to fit the size and scale of the site. TLC’s modern steel planters showcase the plant material within, elevating even a simple outdoor experience with thoughtful steel design. As an added bonus, weathered steel can be powder-coated to match the color palette of the home or landscape.
At Contra Verde, custom powder coated steel planters frame the front entryway, enriching the experience and sense of arrival. Meanwhile in the backyard, steel planters not only frame each functional area, but they also act as transitional elements between the home and the outdoor living spaces. Basil and other seasonal culinary herbs are conveniently within reach in the steel planters lining the outdoor dining patio.
Whether it be a residential or commercial outdoor environment, the possibilities for creative solutions and innovation with steel are infinite. Steel elevates the outdoor experience and leaves a lasting impression.
ABOUT TLC GardensTLC Gardens is a design build firm in Boulder, Colorado. They are members of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the National Association of Landscape Professionals. tlcgardens.com