Views of home: 4 metro Atlanta photographers share their backyard escapes

Spaces to relax, play, and grill

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Photograph by Ryan Hayslip

During a season of sheltering at home, four photographers turned the lens on their own outdoor spaces and shared the ways they enjoy them.

Photograph by Ryan Hayslip

Ryan Hayslip | Sandy Springs
“Our backyard overlooks the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area, protected land with no buildings, so it truly feels like an escape from the city even though we’re one mile from Atlanta’s perimeter. My wife, April, and I sit there watching the red-tailed hawks hunt, glimpsing the occasional fox, and listening to the birds without a car in earshot.
With two active girls ages six and five, we’ve spent a huge amount of time out there in attempts to not climb the walls of our house. The girls have a swing set and their own outdoor table; they play together while we sit enjoying the views. We revamped the backyard space a few years ago, leveling it and adding ecofriendly artificial turf around the deck since it’s so wooded. The Trex outdoor Adirondack chairs were a great investment, extremely durable under the tree cover. We eat outside every night that we can, sneaking out some nights for a glass of wine to watch the sunset. Once we offered up the deck for an impromptu dinner date for friends needing a few hours away since no restaurants were open.

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Photograph by Jeff Herr

Jeff Herr | Avondale Estates
My wife, Amy, and I love to sit on the screened porch in the morning listening to music, drinking coffee, hanging with the dogs. The Tibetan prayer flags are from Emory’s annual Tibet Week. We eat outside as much as the weather permits, usually in the evening and often with a fire in the pit, which we got at the best Ace Hardware in the world, in Decatur on Scott Boulevard, where they also have kiln-dried firewood that is actually dry, easy to start, and always burns well. Amy has a few local farms she orders grass-fed meat from, and it’s a treat to get it delivered and grill over an open fire in the Kudu, a South African grill that uses only wood or natural charcoal. Beyond our stone patio is a small garden pond that I installed with a little fountain that produces a relaxing sound of water like a babbling brook.

Photograph by Rustic White

Photograph by Rustic White

Photograph by Rustic White

Robert Peterson | Kennesaw
Prior to renovating our yard four years ago, we rarely stepped out back. It’s approximately a half acre but was densely wooded. It was the upcoming arrival of our second daughter that prompted my wife, Tiffany, and me to either house hunt or find a way to make the space work for us. We did this by building a 200-square-foot office that is detached from the main house. We built it—along with the deck, playhouse, and greenhouse—ourselves, with the help of fantastic neighbors. Our daughters, ages three and six, have always been homeschooled, but the recent hiatus on travel and work has led us all to use our backyard spaces more. Now, we spend anywhere from four to eight hours back here. This time has also left us dreaming of new projects to add at the far end of the property, including a bike path and a small A-frame, open-air patio for doing schoolwork.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Lauren Rubinstein | Cumming
Our outdoor living areas are the things we love most about our home. The cherry tree was there when we bought the house and has grown to be a great place for shade and relaxation. My husband, Blake, and I actually were going to take it down when we redid the backyard because it was becoming too big for the space. I am so happy we decided not to. It has become the centerpiece of our yard. The fireplace is something I have always wanted, and I finally pulled the trigger about three years ago. We recently sat out there by the fire and watched a home concert on a laptop from one of our favorite singer/songwriters. Funny, the weather has probably been the best this year since we built it. The front porch swing, however, is probably our favorite spot. It’s a huge quality of life thing . . . it seems silly, but your stress really leaves the building the moment you sit out there and swing. We got it from Atlanta Bed Swings in Marietta. We ordered the little trays that attach to the swing from Ballard Designs and retrofitted them to hold our wine—a definite upgrade for happy hour.

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

Photograph by Lauren Rubinstein

This article appears in our Summer 2020 issue of Atlanta Magazine’s HOME.

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