I love my work! I also love sharing the methodology and process of landscape design − who, what, when, where, why, and how: from concept to completion. This iconic project photograph has become my signature image. Each project holds a special place in my heart, and this project is no exception, resulting in two top design awards from VSLD (Virginia Society of Landscape Designers.) Both are truly an honor. See the unique project images and drawings in the Landscape Design Portfolio: Gracious Outdoor Living
Williamsburg, Virginia is stepped in history and tradition. It is also home to classic style and elegant design. It is the setting for America’s oldest institute of higher learning − The College of William and Mary, and Colonial Williamsburg − one of America’s finest examples of our restored yesteryear. It’s no surprise that my Williamsburg client’s project priorities reflect the grace and charm of their home and the surrounding environment to their outdoor living retreat.
Initiating the design process, I focused on the client’s goals: incorporate unique features into a new two-level stone patio while maintaining connection to the surrounding woodland. In order to provide unobstructed views, my aesthetic aim was to craft a very low profile solution requiring minimal railings or visual obstructions. The solution: configuring the benches along the perimeter in such a way as to create a natural safety barrier.
The resulting design artfully meets those objectives. Surrounding most of the patio perimeter, on the outside of the sandstone benches, are stepped brick planters. The back of the planters forms the face of the bench above, integrating the three dimensional components. The outcome creates clean lines and a sculptural effect. Rounded, taller brick planters are positioned at the outside corners of the layout and accommodate small trees, anchoring the overall arrangement. The resulting design also highlights a fire pit, outdoor kitchen, brick arches, pergola, and a water feature, all part of the initial project criteria.
While meeting all of the project criteria, the design solution incorporates creative and unusual elements. A noteworthy focal point is the round fire pit located in the center of the patio and at the intersection of the two floor levels. It is positioned so that when seated on the lower level, the round granite surface surrounding fire pit is at bar height. Conversely, when seated on the upper level, the opposite side of the continuous fire pit surround is at coffee table height, and a convenient height to prop ones’ feet up for warming by the fire. The backdrop for the outdoor kitchen is a series of three brick arches, mimicking details of the homes’ existing windows and architecture. Attached to these arches and connected to brick columns aligning with the fire pit is a wood pergola arranged in a grid layout. Although historic in its inspiration, this unusual grid motif introduces a sense of the unexpected, adding interest and an element of surprise.
Stone and brick are the primary building materials, recalling some of the local and familiar material palette so very much a part of Williamsburg style. The floor is a beautiful multi-size travertine, and matching, solid, radius cut stair treads transition the patio levels. Sandstone slab benches with beautiful veining add rich character. The irregular cut stone vertical surface of the fire pit and the back of the planters introduces another visual surprise, and stunningly complements the other materials. The contractor searched to locate brick and mortar exactly matching the existing home, creating a seamless, integrated visual. Although rectangular in plan, the layout incorporates steps between the levels and to the entry walkways that are shaped in wide, sweeping arcs, once again lending a feeling of grace and style to the overall ambience.
The homeowners are accomplished gardeners. From day one, the installation and plantings has a sense of maturity and substance, and an almost tropical effect. Each year brings more beauty and enjoyment.
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