The comprehensive master plan addressed the challenge of respecting the original garden design intent with a redesign modeled on a more sustainable metric. Like the remodel of the architecture, the existing elements that were healthy and held true to the low-impact vision remained: a large redwood, an established pepper tree and drought tolerant property-line hedges. Elements that were high water, outdated, unsafe or not in line with the new vision were removed: ornamental plantings, boxwood foursquare garden with roses, a lawn, and a lion head fountain that spilled from four sides.

The new design recreated garden elements, linking the landscape spaces to the newly designed interiors and retained the quality and character of a Spanish Revival architecture. The garden spaces provide focal points that respond to site lines from inside the house and garden spaces that offer a range of experiences that respond to the microclimates on the property. The gravel courtyard off the arched formal loggia of the house features a metal fountain framed by olive trees. As a terminus to the outdoor dining room, a stucco fireplace soars above the seating area. Informal pathways lead to a production garden enclosed by citrus trees and a fire pit lounge behind a low-water no-mow grassy knoll. Tucked under a towering redwood rests a small retreat, inspired by a cozy sitting room with a heated bench and interior-inspired lighting.

On the top of the client’s wish list was a dining area with a minimalist outdoor kitchen. We designed a cooking island to anchor the space. We customized off-the-shelf appliances to minimize bulk and reduce the reflectivity of the finishes. Kalamazoo cabinets and a Caliber Social grill were refinished from stainless steel to blackened steel. The dark counter top pulls in the color of the French limestone paving, making the space feel like a well-considered outdoor room.

The client was keenly involved in the design of the garden features down to the detailing of the fireplace hearth. The builder who renovated the house, brought their attention to detail in the landscape creating elements that will last a lifetime. The success of the garden was also the true collaboration between client, designer and builder.

Photography Credit: Marion Brenner
Project location: Palo Alto, California, United States
Design year: 2022, completed
Year Built: 2022


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