Darrell and Penelope Pennington have a secret sanctuary: a picturesque terrace adorned in green and black hues and decked out with lemon and lime trees. Most spring and summer mornings, Penelope enjoys her coffee here when the sun’s still low and the faux grass is at its softest from sweet morning dew. There’s even a small pet door, so the family cat can partake in these peaceful moments of relaxation.
But unless you knew it was there, you’d probably never think to look for these tran- quil scenes. That’s because the Penningtons’ terrace sits high up on the third story of their 1869 Victorian home. The Penningtons bought the house on Chandler Avenue in the Riverside Historic District in 1998 and have been renovating it for 20 years.
“We wanted a total private space for lounging or to have dinner in,” Penelope says. “No one knows when they drive by that it’s a terrace. It doesn’t draw attention. No one knows you’re even up there.”
Dimly lit, quiet, and a touch romantic, the terrace is a recent addition to the home. The door that walks out onto the terrace previously was a window. When Penelope retired from the property investment industry in 2019, she traded the window in her third-floor office for a door, which trans- formed the landing into a hidden refuge.
“Admittedly, the space doesn’t quite fit the rest of the home, which tends to be eclectic in style anyway,” Penelope says.
An expert designer, she knows how to make everything in (and on) the abode flow. The terrace itself is surrounded by a six-foot-tall black fence. The space looks up at blue skies, creating a beautiful juxtaposition.
“A lot of people think black closes things in. But whenever you don’t have a ceiling and you just have the sky, a black, six-foot-tall privacy fence makes the terrace feel bigger than it actually is,” Penelope says.
She says black works as a great back- drop to showcase and highlight the magnificence of the sky.
“When you look up and you’ve got this sky, you don’t even notice the black. It really just helps frame it,” she says.