In the affluent community of Mission Viejo, California there is a lakeside residence with a recently renovated landscape. When Warwick Hunt of Studio H Landscape Architecture completely redesigned the front yard, entranceway and back yard of the home, he created an elegant entrance in the front and a luxurious outdoor living space in the back. The pale limestone and shades of blue in the infinity edge pool, spa and glass tiles give the terraced patio a Santorini feel.
Aside from the water features, the terraced back yard also includes an outdoor kitchen and BBQ grill, limestone fire pit, built-in seating, limestone stairs, glass railing and accent lighting throughout.
One of the things Hunt did to completely change the space and create a clean, modern look was to remove the old red tiles around the home and replace them with pale limestone.
Hunt explained, "The existing layout of the space wasn't functional. The spaces were broken into too many small unusable terraces at various elevations. To solve this we completely re-graded the space and created larger usable spaces. Additionally, we used high-quality materials throughout to bring the landscape up to the quality of the home. Some of the materials include vein-cut limestone paving, limestone veneer on all the walls, glass tile through the pool and spa and custom high-quality concrete countertops."
"The design style we were looking to achieve was "soft contemporary". The goal was to create a clean, minimal layout of high-quality materials in a neutral color palette and then accent it with vibrant glass tile and furnishings. We wanted to create a contrasting color that would pop, but still create the darker blue shade of water to blend the water surfaces. The infinity edge pool was designed to create an invisible transition from the pool water to the lake."
Everything in the renovated landscape is new. Hunt explains, "We completely demolished the entire front and rear yards. We wanted to lower the pool below the finish floor elevation of the home to create long linear steps which are cantilevered and have LED tape light. This also allowed us to raise the spa and have the top of the spa be at the same elevation as the home to ensure that no lake views were blocked out."
"Having built-in seating really creates a refined, elegant feel to a project. While it's less expensive to simply put a sectional sofa out there, having the built-in seating creates a unified, finished appearance that can't be duplicated with furniture. Additionally it enabled us use LED tape light under the seats, creating a strong visual element in the evening."
The creative use of lighting really accents the space. When asked how he chose to use lighting in different areas of the space, Hunt explained, "Lighting is one of the most important elements on a project, and often overlooked as it's an easy area to cut costs. Lighting becomes as much about aesthetics as it is function. It creates a comfortable ambiance not only when one is in the yard, but also from inside the home. It can change the entire feel of a home in the night hours."
"We use only LED lights these days to save on energy and one of our favorite types of lighting is LED tape light. A waterproof, dimmable, RGB tape light, like the one from Tivoli, is a very versatile fixture. It can be used under step treads, built-in seating, barbecue countertops and backsplashes, and even water features."
The project took a little over a year to complete. "The Landscape Contractor, Conscious Environments, did an excellent job. The build quality is topnotch. They are always a pleasure to work with and we can trust that they do nothing but the best work."
When asked what his favorite part of the project was, Hunt replied, "My favorite part of the project was working with the clients. We couldn't have asked for better clients. They had some great input and really allowed us creative freedom. Projects only turn out as good as their clients, and this is a great project."