“Please improve our curb appeal and outdoor entertaining space.” Requested the Owners of the Elm Grove home. The house had some great assets to work with such as the lannon stone veneer, large existing trees and beautiful horizontal lines. In contrast there were also some significant challenges such as large grade changes, existing trees near the patio and the desire to solve a porch leaking problem to the wine cellar below. The design overcame the challenges and used the assets as inspiration.
The front entry sequence was quite unappealing with overgrown shrubbery, and unusable raised lannon stone planter and limited visibility to the front door. The first step was to remove the overgrown plantings and the raised lannon stone planter on the front porch. This opened up the front door to the driveway. The next step was to repair and waterproof the porch followed by a New York Bluestone veneer. The steps up to the porch were then re-oriented towards the street rather than away from the street making the entry more grand and inviting. The steps up to the porch feature a radial pattern that will be reminiscent in the remainder of the entry design. The various terraces to the front door consist of Brussels Block pavers while the steps consist of lannon park steps. Lannon stone retaining wall terraces break up the tremendous grade change into manageable flights rather than one long flight of steps. The planting beds feature low growing shrubs and perennials to ensure that visibility to the front door is not compromised. Many of the selected plants are intended to cascade over the retaining walls to reinforce the casual appearance desired by the Owner. The plants are massed for maximum impact and feature a variety of textures, colors, hues and forms to provide seasonal impact. The intent is to have something interesting occurring in the garden at all times of the year. The final touch included landscape lighting to accent the path and steps for safe pedestrian movement to the front door at night and accent interesting landscape architectural elements in the landscape.
The backyard patio posed many interesting challenges. The primary challenge was to overcome a significant grade change in a narrow area between the building first floor and the Brussels Block patio below. The design successfully integrated a typical rise to run ratio into the step design by extending the steps into the patio space as a primary architectural feature. The bottom arced custom cut lannon park step landing defines the transition from the steps to the patio while providing and interesting architectural element to the space which breaks from the typical step treatment found with the lannon park steps. A lannon stone retaining wall provides a planting bed for plantings above the wall. The use of lannon stone is inspired by the existing lannon stone veneer on the house. The two blend together seamlessly improving the overall aesthetics of the space. Furthermore, a seat wall is integrated into the design to soften the transition between the vertical house wall and the patio space. The seat wall features a curved form and terminates in a lighted pillar to accent the entry into the space. The seat wall provides the added benefit of overflow seating and framing out a space for supplemental plantings at the building foundation. Overall, the entire design for the front and back of this home exceeded the Owners expectations in design and delivery.