All of us are working on the same real life design problem this month–a landscape renovation for a young couple’s New England country home. Tuesday’s Find will return next week.
For my part, I’m going to attempt to explain my process–or how I arrive at the conceptual design idea. I actually cultivate a lack of continuity in my initial thoughts because that scatter-shot method serves my creative purpose–ideas flow fast and freely…so here goes.
Even with pictures and descriptions, I have to walk a property–to experience it in three dimensions to be able to understand its nuances and its land speak. What I found at Amy’s (abcddesigns) country house was a property in need of cohesion. The clean sophisticated simplicity of the architecture and materials of the existing home and the out buildings needed an overall concept to tie them together visually and functionally.
Each structure was beautiful unto itself, but none really related to another by anything other than proximity. There was no real arrival experience.
In the back there had been some attempt to place these structures in logical places, but what the property lacked was flow. Each space seemed separate–they needed the landscape to unify them.
The first step in my process, after finding out the homeowner’s dreams for their property is to plot everything–measurements are taken and located on a drawing to scale. Below you’ll see is my notes scribbled on a copy of that basemap. I don’t do ‘bubble diagrams’ because I am visualizing the space as I make notes. This works for me and doesn’t lock me into an idea. My notes address client requests, ideas of my own and whatever else seems appropriate in the flow of the creative process. I work quickly–changing and editing as I go along letting some ideas become more fully realized and letting others fall away.
On the property there is already a mashup of materials in play. When I visited in the fall, Amy had already replaced the turf in front of the barn with a bluestone courtyard. There were granite slab steps, bluestone walks, wood fences and stone walls. I chose bluestone as the unifying material. It’s plentiful locally and classic.
One of the things that interests me most about landscape design is how to get people from one point to another and how they will interact with each other as well the three dimensional space. Sometimes plants form that underlying structure, some times its paths and hard surfaces.
Amy’s style is eclectic yet contemporary. To create a unified design that complemented the architecture and without moving any of the major features, I developed a geometric scheme based on the existing relationships. On her wish list was a patio by the screen porch and an herb garden. On her husband’s was a spa and a lap pool. They are not avid gardeners and do not want to be.
By searching for relationships between the existing outbuildings and creating new ones with paths and patios, I have been able to unify the space and create logical transitions between each area. This is drawing would be the first of many revisions in the design process. There are no real details in this plan. It’s simply starting point.
For the rest of the Roundtable designer’s ideas for the same project, visit the links below