by Christy Heitger-Ewing | photos by The Home Aesthetic

BPI Create Thoughtful Outdoor Living Spaces

Sometimes in life “winging it” works. When it comes to creating an outdoor oasis, however, it’s best to think it through and make a comprehensive plan. A well thought out design solution yields not just a better result, but a better overall experience.

“I’ve been in this business for 23 years, designing and building spaces, and I’ve seen it time and again,” says J.D. Durst, President & Owner of BPI Outdoor Living. “When people don’t use a comprehensive master plan, the project often doesn’t look cohesive. Spending time on the front end not only gets you a better result but could potentially save you a lot of money and/or heartache down the road.”

The team at BPI Outdoor Living consider themselves landscape architects first and skilled artisans second. With five landscape architects on staff, the team believes that design is paramount. They pride themselves on creating an immersive experience for their clients, and they do that with their unique approach. In most cases, a landscape company will come out to your house, walk the property, then sit down with you at your kitchen table and go through a stack of pictures. At BPI’s initial meeting, however, the design team utilize a customer questionnaire.

“It’s really more of an interview process so that potential clients can determine if we are a good fit for them and their type of project,” says Durst. By the end of that first meeting, which typically lasts 45 to 60 minutes, BPI has provided the client with a broad idea of what their space could include and approximately how much it could cost. Next steps involve talking about if the project will be done all at once or in phases.

Clients are then invited to BPI’s design studio where they are walked through a three-step design discovery process that honors their goals, ambitions, and needs. Durst and his team discuss opportunities and constraints for the process and advise clients throughout that process, in terms of solutions, investment and return on that investment. At the design studio, they utilize physical materials and vignettes as well as CAD 3D modeling software, fly-thru videos, and programs like SketchUp to show their clients exactly what a project will look like and how it’s going to feel in that space before they ever put a shovel in the ground.

“Our clients can have a lot of anxiety around the investment they’re making,” says Durst. “They want to be sure they’re not making the wrong choices so being able to show them everything before they even start the process really helps alleviates that stress and makes them feel more at ease in their selections and our solutions.”

Durst’s process when working with clients is simple; it’s all about having conversations and asking questions because through dialogue comes education and understanding. He poses questions like, “What do you envision? How much time do you anticipate spending in the space? How many people will be in the space when you’re using it? Do you want it to be open? Do you want cover from the elements? Do you want a fire feature? Do you envision that being gas or woodburning?”

Then they walk through the pros and cons of the different options. They also ask what’s more important when it comes to material – durability or aesthetics. And are you looking for low maintenance or no maintenance? For those who are eager to make their space special but have no idea how or where to begin, these guided conversations help them hit the ground running. Again, it’s all about making a plan.

“Think through how everything interconnects,” says Durst. “Spending the time to come up with a really good solution can save you energy, hassle and dollars.”

If you are ready for a more thoughtful approach to designing and building your ideal outdoor living space, learn more at