Designing from inside to outside
We learned that landscape design is complex and, that to achieve successful results, many areas of expertise come into play. Surrounds Client, Great Falls Virginia
This landscape design project began with the simple desire to correct a bit of back yard neglect. It evolved into an intense collaboration between homeowner, interior designer and landscape architect. The owner had spent considerable time fashioning the interior of her Great Falls home to express something of a southern European style. Interior designer Christopher Nutter and the homeowner wanted the exterior features and landscape design to be in harmony with the style of the interiors and architecture of the house which Nutter describes as “French Country Manor.” But, rather than limit the scope to an authentic style recreation, he and the homeowner gave themselves creative leeway to go for something that would feel “both elegant and welcoming…not too stiff or formal.” They asked Surrounds landscape architect Chad Talton to come up with a plan.
A challenging site
The integration of the spiral stair in combination with the different elevations of plantings helps to soften the hardscapes of the rear entry area and make it feel like a lush garden area instead of an overbuilt hardscape. Chad Talton, Surrounds Landscape Architect
The aesthetic desires expressed by the homeowner and interior designer were immediately clear to Talton: “the existing deck, pool, hardscape, and landscape had a very rudimentary feel to it that was not consistent with the architecture of the home.“ Talton was also quick to identify an imposing technical challenge that stood between them and achievement of that aesthetic vision: a steep slope dropping over a short distance to an existing pool patio. With almost no wiggle room, Talton had to figure out a way to finesse that extreme elevation change and create a pleasing entry feature and pathway from the parking level to the pool level. As it turned out, his biggest success came from dealing with his biggest challenge. Of all the features that compose this new landscape design, the new garden entry gate and spiral walkway are his favorite.
The Magic Three
Interior designer Christopher Nutter says that, in terms of features or focal points, he likes to work with “3’s.” There was already a pool in the yard. That’s one. The client wanted to add an open air pool house. That’s two. And Nutter lobbied for a water feature, a fountain he’d had his eye on for a while. He ordered it from a company in New Orleans. “It had this very under stated look that looked almost like a found object. And when it’s running it produces this really soft water fall sound. It’s really relaxing”.
Now there are three focal points in the yard. In addition to the pool are the pool house and the fountain. The pool house interior features a built in wet bar with refrigerator and storage for wine and stemware. The stone-work was inspired by the wine cellar (designed by David Spon of Wine Cellar Concepts) and tasting room in the basement level of the house.
Also worth noting, the hefty Roman pillars that support the pool house reflect back to the main house. There a row of identical pillars supports the sun deck and loggia—Talton’s elegantly understated replacement for that ailing deck. The upper deck of the loggia uses a “belly picket” style iron railing that nicely repeats the theme established by iron railings used at the garden entry and stone stairway on the opposite side of the yard.
There is a commonality, a thread of design, I think, in architecture that moves from the house into the back. And Surrounds was very successful in tying that together. We all worked very hard to get this right especially because of the kind of terrain we have. It’s very hilly and steep. Surrounds Client, Great Falls
A Stylish and Cohesive Landscape Design
This collaboration resulted in a landscape design that has distinctive visual anchors that repeat architectural and stylistic themes established in the main house. The individual elements -each one a standout feature- make sense together in the overall composition created by the landscape architect. The integration of architecture, landscaping and hardscape has shaped the entire back yard into a consistently beautiful and welcoming outdoor environment.