When we moved to San Francisco, I chose to live in the top unit and my sister chose the bottom. Six years later, I realize now, how maybe I should have put more thought into that decision.
To get to the garden I have to walk down 2 flights of narrow side stairs, through a dingy, dark, damp basement, and up five more steps to our garden oasis. The end result – I barely use the garden.
My visions of drinking hot green tea, sitting on my backyard patio in this carefully concocted fragrant garden oasis, with the cool San Francisco breeze on my face has yet to happen. Instead, in the chaos of watching my sisters’ children, I longingly look at the double doors that open right out onto the deck and the mere three steps down to the lawn. Poof! Magically, I am in the garden smelling the sweet blossoms of the lemon tree, feeling the San Francisco morning dew on my toes. It makes such a difference being IN the garden rather than viewing it from above.
Bottom line, decks and patios that allow easy access between your house and the outside make a huge difference. This is especially important for postage stamp sized gardens, with limited space, which are very common in dense urban areas like San Francisco. The seamless flow from a public area inside, like the living room or kitchen onto a substantial deck or backyard patio really increases the useable space and blurs the distinction between the inside and out. Convenience is key! Perhaps I’m lazy, but just the thought of making the trek to the garden stresses me out.
My goal is to save up a mini trust fund to build a balcony and a spiral staircase down to our backyard patio. For now, I will begin to research the building codes for my San Francisco block so I can figure out what the setbacks are for spiral staircases and where it will have the least impact on my sister’s view downstairs and can easily connect to our backyard patio.