Kind of blue

A trip to Morocco inspires a tiny cobalt-accented oasis in Beacon Hill.

By Marni Elyse Katz
October 18, 2009

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When designer Brian Feehan heard from his client, a 50-something with a passion for travel, that she wanted to turn her 10-by-17-foot outdoor space in Beacon Hill into a paradise inspired by a garden in Marrakech, he was undaunted. But he teased, “Where the heck am I going to fit a 20-foot reflecting pool?”

Since moving to Beacon Hill in 2003, the homeowner contentedly used the no-frills outdoor space for grilling and entertaining. But a trip to Morocco last November inspired her to transform it. There, she visited the dramatic Majorelle Garden, which was designed by the painter Jacques Majorelle in 1924 and revived by fashion designer Yves Saint-Laurent and his partner, Pierre Berge, in 1980. She brought back a photo book to show Feehan, requesting that he revamp her patio in the image of Majorelle, complete with striking cobalt-blue accents, verdant foliage, and a fountain. (Feehan, whose Connecticut firm is called The Imagination Company, met the homeowner several years ago through friends and has helped her decorate several rooms.)

The first step was to replace the rotted wood deck. The new one, made from ipe, was stained mahogany to complement the brick walls that surround the space on all four sides. After removing a small jungle’s worth of vines, Feehan painted the bright green lattice -- deemed “too preppy” by the homeowner, but needed to cover the air conditioner’s condenser and for privacy -- with exterior flat black paint.

While the lattice is meant to recede into the background, Feehan hung three rows of 6-inch-wide horizontal strips of wood painted a deep cobalt blue around the perimeter of the space to add color. The slats are functional, too; the homeowner hangs votives and flowerpots from them. For additional interest, Feehan hung a pair of antique Chinese doors opposite the French doors leading into the home. He added mirrors, too, to visually expand the space.

The piece de resistance is the mosaic glass tile fountain. Reaching 8 feet high, it adds a blast of color, sparkling light, and trickling sounds to the garden. Water runs down a surface covered with tiles in different thicknesses, and lights shining up create a glistening, otherworldly effect in the evening.

The homeowner, who uses the patio through the fall, loves its new flexibility. Employing a tabletop system Feehan designed (the long top pictured here is fitted over a smaller round table), she can easily host an intimate gathering for four or a dinner party for eight or lay out a buffet. “I’m looking forward to pushing the table to the far wall and throwing a good size cocktail party,” she says. “It is amazing out here.”

Marni Elyse Katz blogs about design at Send comments to

  • October 18, 2009 cover
  • october 18 globe magazine cover
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