Designer Peter Jahnke is sitting along the edge of a planting strip talking about a patio he designed for an active family that loves to entertain. He speaks of all that happens here; the parties, picnics, afternoons spent in the sun, evening soaks under the stars.

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Designer Peter Jahnke is sitting along the edge of a planting strip talking about a patio he designed for an active family that loves to entertain. He speaks of all that happens here; the parties, picnics, afternoons spent in the sun, evening soaks under the stars.

But we sit staring at a big, blank wall.

And then, with a Carol-Merrell-“Let’s-Make-a-Deal” flourish, Jahnke swivels out a piece of the wall. And there is a hot tub.

He grabs one of the horizontal cedar slats and pulls down. And now, next to the hot tub, appears a picnic table with benches that seat eight.

Jahnke steps aside. He is not finished. He pokes his hand into another stretch of the wall and pulls out a bar complete with an icy-blue tiled counter. And, because you can’t have a bar with out a bar stool, Jahnke pulls that out of the wall, too.

By the time he is finished with this designer’s magic act of hinges and pivots there is also a sunning bed, a door, stairs to the upper deck and two privacy gates.

Voilà! The Vertical Patio.

“When the family got here they had a normal deck, not much backyard and weeds. Code prevented us from building farther back,” says Jahnke, director of this team effort in North Seattle from PIQUE (www.piquearchitecture.com).

At first Jahnke thought he had hit a wall. Then he determined that a wall was just what he was looking for.

“It was definitely an ah-ha! moment that such a big solution came from something as simple as a deck.”

This solution turned out to be a whole new room 40 feet wide and 8 feet deep in flat-pack form. Built in 2007, the Vertical Patio cost $35,000, including the pavers for the patio surface and plantings. It already has won a string of awards, including a 2007 Northwest Design Award from the Seattle Design Center and a Wood Design Award from the Canadian Wood Council.

The Vertical Patio’s private side houses a changing room and the hot tub, and the upstairs grilling deck, which sits just outside the home’s kitchen. The public side holds dining table, bar, stool, tanning bed and garden area that offers additional seating. Jahnke studied sun and shadow patterns behind the house to determine the placement of what he calls “the programs.”

Because the couple love to entertain, the patio had to be party ready. And, so, Jahnke provided plenty of halogen uplighting to give the entire space the feeling of an open-air nightclub. Two light troughs, one off the end of the bar and another that runs along the planting bed, are filled with light blue sea glass that matches the tiles on the bar. The troughs, which Jahnke calls “reflecting pools” of light cast an ethereal glow.

A small cutout in the center of the pavers is planted with a charming little Japanese maple. Bamboo running the length of the planting bed is growing into a privacy screen.

Technically speaking, Jahnke calls the Vertical Patio’s slatted wall “the skin.”

“It’s kind of like a machine we inserted into the space, and when it’s folded up it doesn’t do anything until you bring it out.”

And let the party unfold.

Rebecca Teagarden is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Benjamin Benschneider is a magazine staff photographer.