Rows of tidy, early-20th century homes line the streets of Charlotte’s Elizabeth neighborhood. Big front porches. Colorful shutters and trims. Unique and one-of-kind dwellings.

One couple, consultant Scott Bishop and interior designer Ron Sperry, have turned their backyard into an urban escape. Their pavilion, built in 2007, is the focus of their backyard, taking up nearly the entire space. It’s airy and relaxed, complete with a sectional sofa, a fireplace, dining area and outdoor kitchen.

It’s the perfect space for entertaining, they say.

“Scott’s parents usually come to town in the fall and we try to have a cookout, so they get to see all of our friends at one time,” says Sperry.

The area can accommodate 20-25 people comfortably and during slightly warmer weather in the winter, the outdoor fireplace keeps things cozy.

“When it’s warm in the winter, we can have the fireplace going and you can sit out here,” Bishop says. “We did Thanksgiving dinner out here.”

Sperry adds, “Once the fire’s been going for a while, all the bricks heat up and stay warm and they really generate a lot of heat.”

The couple, who moved to the home in 2000, have used their outdoor living space for fundraisers and other events, including movie nights with friends. They have a pull-down movie screen and surround sound.

The space is constantly changing and growing, they say.

“It’s kind of been an evolution,” Sperry says. “We just picked away at it. We’ve just added pieces as we’ve gone and will continue to change it as we move forward. It’s never really done. When you are a designer, you just keep thinking how you can change.” : :

Open entertaining space accents landscape.
Open entertaining space accents landscape.
Inventive lighting can add charm to any outdoor decor.
Cozy up to an outdoor fireplace in the winter for added ambiance.
Even a backyard can be a get-away escape from your regular routine when you pair
a hot tub and comfortable relaxation spots.

For more garden ideas, visit

Photos: Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.