Contemporary Shade Garden in the Oakland Hills

Our lovely shade garden for clients in the Oakland Hills features California native plants and strong contemporary lines that play off the lush, lacy, rich textures of the plant material. The hilly landscape provides an opportunity for paths and stairs to lead you to quiet spaces for rest and reflection.

 

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Victorian details emerge: Our renovation project

A mahogany banister and a marble mantle and fireplace were unearthed from under layers and layers (and layers) of paint and gunk in the last weeks at our new house. I am so thrilled that these materials will see the light of day again. Thanks to Builtform Construction and Zack | de Vito for all of the amazing work.

photo-10 photo-7 photo-5

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Burbank Ranch Winery Online

Our landscape design work is featured on the new website for Burbank Ranch. Check it out and buy some amazing wines while you browse!

In 2009 Nicole Kelly and I worked with Fred and Melody to create a landscape around the main house at Burbank Ranch as well as their agricultural manager’s residence. We were inspired and impressed by their love of the regional agricultural landscape, and sought to create spaces that reflected that love and interest.

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SF Edwardian – Demo and Reconfiguration

Our design and permitting process is finally done, and now work has begun in earnest at our new (very old) house. While the design moves strive to simplify, the work we are doing is substantial and will be completely transformative.

Most of the change is happening on the back of the house. An old laundry porch (that looked like it was built by drunken prospectors) is being removed, and the random, unaligned aluminum windows are being replaced by wood framed windows.

The existing conditions look a bit like this:

And the proposed elevation:

Above drawings are by Zack | de Vito Architecture & Construction.

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Trellis with Cafe Lights on Houzz

They love us on Houzz! We’ve been included in another summertime ideabook on the Houzz homepage. Check it out!

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Third Nature Featured on Houzz

Third Nature Studio is happy to announce we were featured in an ideabook on the home page of Houzz about the cooling visual effect of blue plants in the landscape. Check it out.

The project featured was a Los Altos garden in a hot, sunny location. The plant palette suggests lushness with rich greens and blues, but does not include any lawn.

Thanks Houzz!

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Lawn Alternatives

It’s not impossible to have an iconic green carpet of grass in California and save a little water. It is really astounding how much water goes into maintaining residential lawns, and there are so many refreshing twists on that old tradition to try.

The images below are from projects I’ve worked on around the Bay Area, a no mow fescue grass at Cavallo Point, myoporum groundcover in Los Altos, and Carex pansa at a residence in San Louis Obispo County.

Another possibility with a traditional turf grass lawn is to give it a clean edge – a metal header, a dg pathway or even a concrete mowband to define a smaller lawn space and make it look a little more refined at the same time.

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Cavallo Point – The Retreat at Fort Baker

I recently visited Cavallo Point, a unique historic and contemporary hotel in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. I worked on the project a bit back in 2006 while I was a consultant for The Office of Cheryl Barton. Its a lovely place, and an amazing setting.

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Our House, the Existing Floor Plan

Clearly, I am no architect. These are rough existing floor plans of the house from memory, and a little help from Google Maps. Our biggest concern is getting more light into the back of the house. We may increase the size of some of the windows in the back, and remove some of the closets and porch that cover the South and East facades. Oh yeah, North is up.

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It’s the opposite of staged

Most houses in SF that we have seen in our year long hunt were staged and updated to the max. They looked like hotel lobbies frozen in time with bowls of perfect green apples on granite counters and coffee table books just so. Yeah, not so with our place. The as-is state helped us see potential, imagine crafting something that suited us well, and it probably kept most of the sane people away too.

So far the most revelatory part of this process, is learning the point of view of the client. I feel like it will help me grow as a design professional to understand first hand what it feels like to sit on the other side of the table and navigate the construction and renovation of my own home. If you have undergone similar projects, I would love to hear your experiences! Any and all advice is much appreciated. And yes, I realize it will take longer and cost more than we can ever imagine.

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