How a Main Line Family Created an Oasis by Thinking Outside Their Home


Redesigned grounds and shade structures let nature-loving suburbanites “live outside.”

A Bryn Mawr family’s outdoor oasis. / Photograph by Drew Callaghan

If you’re tired of being inside all day, why not put an entirely new room outside? That’s what Leslie Hayes’s clients, a doctor couple with three children, did. “They wanted a multi-purpose outdoor space for activities and spending time together,” Hayes says. “They wanted to relax and watch television outside. They wanted a place where they could see multiple vantage points of the backyard. They wanted heaters, to extend their time outside.”

Her clients got everything they wanted and more after Hayes worked alongside Gale Nurseries in Gwynedd Valley to execute their vision, reimagining the grounds and redefining the patio. They added two covered “outdoor rooms” as well as a seating area with a firepit. A stylish color palette of grays, yellows and beiges with bronze accents blends perfectly with the lush greenery surrounding the spaces. Instead of typical lawn furniture, Hayes and her clients brought indoor pieces outside: A bronze chandelier that hung in the living area of the main house is now a central feature outdoors; the sofa was repurposed from their previous home.

Photograph by Drew Callaghan

Of course, durability is key to any outdoor furnishings, so everything is weatherproof. The console tables, black side tables and coffee table are from Made Goods. Further side tables and chairs were found at Century Furniture. Swivel chairs are from Bernhardt Furniture Company, pillows are from F. Schumacher & Co., and the sofa fabric is from Kravet, Inc.

According to Hayes, requests for outside living spaces have increased since COVID-19 hit. “People don’t want to feel enclosed,” she says. She’s pleased that her clients have been making use of their new space: “I came to visit them last fall, and they were sitting outside with hot cocoa and a football game,” she says. There’s nothing confining about that.

Published as “Room to Grow” in the December 2021 issue of Philadelphia magazine.