Located near the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena, California a mid-century home was surrounded by a tired .7 acre garden, buoyed by the canyon setting and awe-inspiring mountain, arroyo, and city views. EPTDESIGN was selected to provide extensive new gardens designed as an anecdote for a fitness-oriented couple with busy careers. The design included all new hardscape, slope stabilization, stormwater management, hardscape, softscape, and lighting. 

The property sits on a steep sloping promontory with significant views to the north, east, and south. A geotechnical engineer was brought in early to determine long-term solutions to the eroding down slope conditions. Water infiltration was a particular issue on the hillsides. Low water plantings were used throughout focusing on natives and adapted species. Native oaks were retained and in many ways provided a focus for the planting solution throughout. Sensitivity to framing views out while screening views in was a significant goal of the design and was taken into consideration when locating any new trees on site. The ground cover plantings of ornamental grasses and succulents harmonize with stone, concrete and gravel to create a textured palette that integrates the land and architecture into a unified whole. 

The rigor of the architecture finds counterpoint in a series of sweeping paths and walls. Radial forms ease the garden onto the organic site while lending mystery to the overall composition. The discoveries include view terraces of cut stone mirrored in wall panels of ledger stone found on exterior and interior surfaces, a fire pit hewn from a two-ton native boulder, and an original pool updated to reflect the spectacular sky. Vital elements of the garden were located to helped strengthen the indoor/outdoor connections, providing a variety of locations to entertain on small and large scale, create privacy, and establish new recreation areas for yoga and strength conditioning.

Integral colored concrete and water-wash finish was used for the pool deck and driveway – tying into its prominent historic use in Pasadena gardens. Stone was installed in random planking emulating the ledger stone walls of the residence. Powder coated steel and glass were used for gates, screens, and railing to facilitate open views and play up the modernity of the structure and garden, and the spa and pool incorporate a deep blue mosaic glass laid up with deep care and craft.

The result is a soulful contemporary home residing in a landscape that evokes the native hillsides with a quiet sensibility. We endeavored to create a retreat that deeply connected to the site as well as seamlessly integrating to the new architectural fabric of the home.

Collaboration with the client and other designers – the design team was assembled by the interior designer who had a long history with the client. We worked together as an integrated team throughout the entirety of the project – from purchase to post occupancy – and the integrated design was one of the most pleasing aspects of the project. Remarkably, the clients gave us great autonomy which only strengthened our resolve to deliver the best solution we could.

Pasadena, California (USA)

Design year: 2017

Year Built: 2019


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