Outdoor Space Envy Across the Bay Area

The Editors and Misty Milioto | June 14, 2019 | Home & Real Estate Story Interiors Features

Outdoor spaces, whether expansive or intimate, are made ultimately livable with the expertise of two notable Bay Area landscape architecture firms.

Garden Envy
Located in Palo Alto, this second home for a tech executive and plant biologist is smaller than the couple’s primary home in Los Gatos. However, they spend a lot of time here during the week so their daughter can attend school in Palo Alto. “The owner wanted to create a garden that reflects her love for Japanese art and history, along with her desire for plant material she can use for her ikebana-inspired flower arranging,” says Jarrod Baumann, CEO and founding landscape architect at Zeterre Landscape Architecture. The small lot meant that every inch had to be used wisely. “We brought in a cut-leaf Japanese maple that was trained prostrate to the ground, only 1 foot tall and 14 feet in diameter; as well as a Japanese black pine that an arborist had [trained for] over 40 years to create its shape,” he says. “We fit the garden around the trees and really celebrated their unique features.” According to Baumann, the overall result is a feast for the eyes. “While it is small,” he says, “every single place you turn and look, it is beautiful.”

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Water’s Edge
In the forested hills of Woodside, this home had an existing rustic character with a historic barn and new stables for horses. For the redesign, the homeowners wanted multiple gathering places where the family could play games, cook and sit by a fire. They also wanted to take advantage of the views to the ridge in the distance. However, the site was sloped and had several heritage oak trees that could not be removed. The homeowners tapped Gretchen Whittier and Kate Stickley, partners at Arterra Landscape Architects, to tackle the project. “We worked to terrace the hillside and feature the oaks and ridge line views to the west,” Whittier says. “There is a lower bocce court below the pool; it blends into the landscape until players activate the space. The historic barn was made into a party barn and [now sits as] a feature in the distance.” The duo also focused on giving the space plenty of color and movement while keeping the foliage drought-tolerant and low-maintenance. Flowering perennials and grasses, and seasonal flowers and fall foliage, all add interest throughout the year. “The homeowners love the separate rooms for smaller gatherings and, for larger gatherings, how the entire garden becomes one room,” Whittier says. “They also love the color that we designed around the oaks.”

Octagonal Oasis
As eye-catching as they are simple, Gem tables by Danish designer Henrik Pedersen for furniture company Gloster are reminiscent of oversize jewelry. An undeniable statement piece, each of the coffee tables ($6,220) and side tables ($4,770) is made of 18 seamlessly bonded ceramic panels that are both heat- and weather-proof. Available in Bianco or Nero, the collection is the epitome of what Gloster is known for—extraordinary design with a sharp wow factor. “Regardless of your perspective,” Pedersen notes, “the rewards are obvious: Whether you appreciate the complexity of the design or just the elegant simplicity of the aesthetic, Gem will appeal.” Camerich San Francisco, 332 Eighth St., San Francisco

Fringe with Benefits
Want to create a backyard scene worthy of an iconic Slim Aarons shot? Or pack a bit of St-Tropez’s Le Club 55 or Bermuda’s Coral Beach & Tennis Club into the patio? The most effective investment is a sassy umbrella that’s scalloped, fringed or tasseled. Enter Serena & Lily. “We wanted to create a sophisticated and elegant umbrella and give it a playful twist,” says Chief Design Officer Kirsty Williams of the brand’s newest pagoda-style canopy. “We looked to a classic style for inspiration and updated it, making it relevant with the fluidity and contrasting color of the fringe. It’s a piece to have fun with!” Fringed umbrella, $988, Serena & Lily, 3457 Sacramento St., San Francisco

Wheels Up
Cabana boy or not, the poshest way to serve up refreshments at your next spring soiree is with an Hermès bar cart. Roll the party waterside and wow your guests with the ultimate hostess trick. This Victorian-inspired trolley shakes things up with an unlikely mix of versatility and elegance. Arrange bottles and ice buckets below; store soda water, mixers and napkins in woven wicker baskets; and display garnishes and cocktails atop movable brass trays. This conversation piece—made of maple, brass, leather and wicker—takes entertaining alfresco to another level. Équipages d’Hermès serving trolley, $35,200, Hermès, Stanford Shopping Center

One Sweet Seat
The real beauty behind the new outdoor version of Ligne Roset’s classic ottoman, designed by French architect Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, is what you don’t see. Delve past its fade-resistant, stain-resistant and mold-resistant Sunbrella performance fabric (shown here in Chartres Rose), and you’ll discover a cleverly hidden drain between the seat and backrest that prevents moisture from pooling on the chair. Outdoor upholstery options are available in more than 30 colors and textures, and every detail—down to the seal-protected seams—is designed to withstand the elements. From $2,615, Ligne Roset, 150 De Haro St. E., San Francisco

Stark Beauties
“Our Eternal collection is designed specifically for outdoor use, and the inspiration for it was just that: the great outdoors,” says Amy Conlon, vice president of product development for rug-maker Stark, of the brand’s all-weather nature-inspired designs. Their unique construction weaves multiple shades into the weft, creating a vibrant display that emulates the endless color-shifting gradient of colors found in a sunrise, an ocean or a rainforest. From 6 feet by 9 feet, price upon request, Stark, 2 Henry Adams St., Ste. 155, San Francisco

Fan the Flame
There’s nothing better than getting cozy by an open flame, and Frontgate’s new line of state-of-the-art fire pits offers a fresh spin on the traditional family-style campfire. No need to chop any trees: The Viejo fire table ($2,699) burns slow and steady with either natural gas or propane. Crafted from glass fiber reinforced concrete and sporting a fine pewter finish, the design features an extra 8 inches of table space on all sides for drinks and snacks. Light it up and watch it sizzle.

Counter Culture
With the addition of three new colors, the Dekton by Cosentino collection of ultracompact architectural surfaces has grown to seven hues—each inspired by different stones and marbles, yet uniquely smooth and impervious to the elements. “The Industrial collection emphasizes the unexpected beauty of aging and decay,” says Phoenix-based architect Daniel Germani, who designed the collection. “These new colors continue to showcase the unique, urban look of cement surfacing, but with the incomparable technology and performance of Dekton.” $58-$96 per square foot

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Wine Country Charm
For a residence in suburban San Mateo, the homeowners sought the laid-back ambiance of Napa Valley—specifically Carneros Resort and Spa. However, the site lacked the expansive views and rolling topography of wine country. Arterra Landscape Architects and the clients spent a long weekend at Carneros to fully experience the spaces and materials. As a result, the home and grounds project, done in conjunction with residential architect Elaine Lee, features a cottagelike massing of buildings with clapboard siding, corrugated metal roofs, and a series of porches and casual spaces—all linked by long allées of fruit trees and destination sitting areas. Meanwhile, strong site lines lead the eye to focal points to emulate the style and character of Carneros. In addition to numerous gathering spaces, there’s also a production garden, a hot tub, a concrete fire pit from Concreteworks and water features. “The [clients] love the long view of the garden from the living room out to the garden shed,” Whittier says. “They also love the seasonal scents of lavender and magnolia, the mix of fruit trees around the garden and the children’s play space that can be seen from the kitchen.”

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Architectural Art
Cradled in the Mount Eden Valley in Saratoga, this home for an Indian-American couple required an outdoor makeover fit for fundraising events. The husband, who works in the tech industry and also has an Indo-American venture firm, and his wife, a former model and fashion designer, worked with six landscape architecture firms before finding Zeterre Landscape Architecture. “She loved our design so much, she gasped,” Baumann says. The challenge was in overcoming a 200-foot change in elevation on the site. Zeterre worked with a structural engineer to fly an infinity-edge pool off the side of the hillside (with a fire pit and seating partially surrounded by the pool). “We were able to create ties using a water feature from the top of the garden to the bottom, where we have a sports court that [can be used for] huge fundraiser events,” Baumann says. Other features include Peruvian travertine hardscape; trees such as Japanese pagoda, hybrid madrone and an allée of elms; and a 9-foot-tall bronze candelabra that sits center stage in one of the infinity-edge fountains. “The clients love it so much that even though they can afford to live in a much grander scale property,” says Baumann, “they choose to never leave this work of art.”

Whole New Light
For the first time in its 32-year history, Dallas-based Arteriors has introduced a line of sconces, pendants and lanterns approved for use in uncovered outdoor areas. Highlights include the Zanadoo outdoor pendant ($2,990), a new take on one of the brand’s signature designs. In this version, a steel frame with clear glass panels covers the iconic starburst, protecting it from the elements. The pendant comes in two finishes: aged iron and aged brass. Artistic Tile, 2 Henry Adams St., Ste. 140, San Francisco

Pick of the Glitter
What’s ancient is new again—and green to boot. Venezia Terrazzo by Artistic Tile uses techniques developed in Venice to encase stone chips in cement to make gorgeous (and practical) tiles. They’re made from recycled materials, and are durable and available in an array of colors and patterns. “We’ve devised a method to calibrate our terrazzo tiles with our stone,” says Nancy Epstein, Artistic Tile’s founder and creative director. Using its slab gallery, she notes, terrazzo can be inserted into most of the custom patterns Artistic Tile creates in-house. The tiles can go indoors or out, if the area doesn’t go below freezing. From $16 per square foot, 2 Henry Adams St., Ste. 140, San Francisco

Sit Awhile
Ideal for a cozy chat and optimal in constricted spaces, such as slim balconies or narrow verandas, the Extremis Bistroo picnic table is spare and functional: a mod-design lover’s dream. A revamped take on the classic picnic table, in this version you sit side by side with your companion—rather than opposite each other. Supported on three legs, the piece is available in powder-coated aluminum or stainless steel, and comes in countless color selections to match your mood. Price upon request, Bulthaup, 290 Townsend St., San Francisco

Originally published in the June issue of Silicon Valley

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Photography by: Mitch Maher