The stresses of the world these days are enough to make us all want to simply getaway for a while. Of course, that seems to be the one thing we can’t do, which strands us with few options inside our homes. We’re left daydreaming of the restorative feeling that washes over us upon entering a spa or the relaxing vibes of a sunbathed, tropical resort. There is a special sense of serenity watching the rising sun while sipping coffee next to the pool.
The pandemic has unearthed the often overlooked value of outdoor space as we’ve watched restaurants, gyms, and even movie theaters expand outside the confines of their doorways. While the sands of Oahu or the mountains of Telluride may never stop calling our names, we live in the luxury of Southern California. We are surrounded by the beauty of the ocean and magnificence of the mountains every single day.
Why shouldn’t our homes give us the same opulent feel as any retreat?
Over the past year of partial (or complete) isolation, we have been confronted with the true importance of loving our space, spending time with family and friends, and expanding our home beyond four walls.
As neighbors have created sidewalk get-togethers, friends honk as they drive by for birthdays and baby showers and graduations alike, and families break bread over zoom meetings and distanced BBQ’s, we’ve truly felt the possibilities, if not necessities, of outdoor living. Our yard is an extension of our home. It should be more than a safe space, it should be where we restore ourselves to take on the world.
A home is a reflection of personality.
As we grow and change throughout the years, so does our style. It is only reasonable that our home must grow and change right along with us. Sometimes, in the short term, that may mean a coat of paint here or new flooring there. And every so often, it means a much bigger undertaking such as a new purchase or complete overhaul renovation. Much the same way that we express ourselves through wardrobe, a home’s exterior and landscape serves as its first impression. Not everyone feels comfortable in the same style, and that style is likely to change through the seasons. And while curb appeal is a known factor among any homeowner, a livable, restorative, and enjoyable outdoor space is just as vital for the prosperity of both quality of life and future resale.
The Poe Project
Poe Avenue serves as a great example. After recovering from the feat of exterior renovations to their home, our client knew it was time to update their site and landscape to match their now-updated home. Using 3D illustrations, we were able to bring their vision to life on screen prior to ever breaking ground.
This site was one of those opportunities for a full overhaul. Our emphasis at Poe Avenue was providing increased privacy screening while still maintaining views of the valley below and beyond.
In the front, we created a theme of board formed concrete walls to compliment the house material while accenting the horizontality of its finished materials. Similarly, we planted joints in the hardscape and swaths of color blocked plants to help accent the linearity of the frontage. This house never had a celebrated entry sequence, so we needed to create movement to invite guests from the sidewalk up to the front door. Because we are particularly adverse to using the driveway for primary means of pedestrian egress, we developed a separate series of stairs from the street to the house entry that aligns with the cor ten steel fountain.
We used strongly sculptural dragon trees to punctuate the entry and play well within the deliberately restrained plant palette. Perhaps the best seat in the house is the front fire pit niche, which was designed with views in mind. This seating area holds the corner of the house pad, and celebrates the setting sun with majestic views westerly overlooking the Valley’s city lights at night.
Creating a Secluded Sanctuary
Around the back, stone paving and hardwood deckinguplifted and unified the walkable surfaces throughout the space. The trapezoidal trellis structure was topped with glass to provide shelter without minimizing light into the home. We renovated the swimming pool, adding height to the rear wall to deliver extra delineation to theupper sundeck beyond. Anilluminated, curved seat wall meets the toe of the slope to expand the depth of the yard without using ominous wall height. Carving into the crook of the converging slopes, the outdoor kitchen and dining are strung with party lights overhead to give this “farm to table” experience a festive charm.
Plant materials compliment those in the front, and further blend with existing mature specimens that help screen views to neighboring homes. To filter and scale down the slope beyond, we introduced olive trees behind the wall which further articulated the concentric arc-like outward “ripples” from the pool. By using cor ten steel veggie planters, we were able to maximize the hillside’s utility.
Finally, we enclosed the space without blocking the distant views by creating a vertical steel picket fence without a top rail. Lines of the adjacent tall, upright cacti signal a living mirror of this gesture.
A home and yard can serve as many things: a gathering space, a school, an office, a playground, and a safe harbor. But, it should also serve as a retreat; a space to regenerate and restore.
The unique topography of Southern California has allowed us to reimagine outdoor living in a variety of ways. Regardless of lot size, we are able to re-envision space with the spirit of a luxury spa resort in mind, scaled accordingly. Nothing makes us happier than hearing from our clients,
“Why would we ever travel, when we are never happier than recreating a home with friends and family in the oasis you have provided for us.”