Mountain View Eichler Landscape Design Challenge
Today we come to you with another landscape design challenge for another Eichler home. We’ve discussed Eichler homes on the blog a number of times. For more on the historical context of these properties, review some of our previous Eichler landscape design challenges. In this blog, we will visit an in-progress design for an Eichler home in the Mountain View, CA area.
Positioned on a triangular lot, these homeowners were looking for a way to make the most of their space. Without a traditional front yard–backyard layout, it can be challenging to find a way to make the space feel harmonious. We were excited to start problem solving to create a modern outdoor living space that felt timeless and worked with the original architecture of the home.
Introducing The Space
At the start of every design process, we begin by sitting down with the homeowners and getting a clear idea of their wants and needs for the space. No two families are the same, and simply talking with our clients is one of the most important steps to achieving a design that they’ll love.
After sitting down with the homeowners, we narrowed down their wishlist to a series of items. They were eager to have plenty of outdoor seating, storage, and usable space. Additional items included vegetable planters and an outdoor gym space that they could use rain or shine. We hit the drawing boards and came back with two distinct design directions.
Looking at Concept A, seen above, you can get a clearer idea of the triangular space that we were working with. Each side of the home had a usable amount of space that the homeowners were eager to make the most of.
Starting in the narrow front approach, a new paver driveway has been installed, lined on each side by landscaping that continues along the fence of the side yards. Continuing from the paver drive along the left side yard, the homeowners step up through a gate onto a series of concrete steppers. From here, they find themselves on an auxiliary deck that provides plenty of space for outdoor seating. This deck is directly accessible from the driveway and main backyard, but is also connected to the side door of the main home by a long boardwalk.
Moving down off of the side deck, the clients follow a paver pathway through a gate and into the main backyard living space. A large patio is now in place, sheltered by a custom pergola. Beneath the pergola, a firepit space cozies up next to the brand new outdoor kitchen. To the left of this covered space a second covered area takes place.
It was important to these homeowners to see possibilities for an outdoor gym space brought to life. We did this by creating a covered recreational area surrounded on three sides by sports turf. This allows our active clients to take their workouts outdoors without ever leaving their property.
To the right of the large patio, the homeowners step onto a flagstone patio that is cut through with turf, giving it a more organic, green feel. Following the flagstone patio to the side of the yard, the homeowners have access to two, long raised vegetable planters in the corner of the backyard. A gravel pathway leads back toward the right side of the home, where a second auxiliary patio sits atop concrete slabs, with trees providing shade overhead.
In the second design we presented, Concept B, we see many of the same elements from the initial design, albeit in a slightly different interpretation. As is seen in Concept A, a new paver driveway opens up to the street, and the homeowners step left through a gate and up into their new space. Following a new paver pathway, the clients find themselves not on an auxiliary deck, but instead on an auxiliary patio. Constructed from a contrasting feature paver, this is a destination space that is accessible again from all points of the yard, as well as directly from the home.
Again, the clients step through a secondary gate and into their main outdoor space. The covered gym and sports turf from Concept A remain unaltered, as well as the covered patio space. However, beneath the pergola, the outdoor kitchen has been reoriented away from the back wall of the yard. Instead of a fire pit, a large dining area fills the space.
Moving along to the right hand side of the yard, the Concept B diverts largely from the first design. Instead of flagstone, a large, circular patio has been constructed. Anchored by a fire pit, this space encourages the homeowners and their guests to gather round and get cozy. A series of curving concrete steppers moves the clients toward the right corner of the yard. Here, the vegetable planters reappear. Instead of sitting flush with corner, they are oriented parallel to one another.
Finally, the clients move back around toward the right side yard. In Concept B, the auxiliary patio remains but has been repositioned to sit against the perimeter of the backyard space. A paved pathway leads the homeowners through this space and towards an additional storage area.
After looking at both designs, the clients were excited about elements from each Concept. We talked through what was and was not working, and returned with a set of 3D renderings. The 3D phase of any outdoor design project is especially exciting for our clients and ourselves. This is the stage at which the homeowners finally get to see the potential of their outdoor space realized, making any design adjustments highly visible.
Starting in the front of the home, you see the new paver driveway rendered. On each side, the drive is lined with landscaping and a privacy fence. From here, you can see the gate described in each concept that allows access to the side yards and backyard living space.
Leading from the driveway, clients step along a series of concrete steppers surrounded by stone and plantings and up onto an auxiliary deck. This deck provides functionality in the space, as well as a direct extension of living space off of the home. It is highly accessible, while also feeling private due to the two gates which create an almost room-like effect.
Exiting the side yard, the clients continue along the paver pathway into the larger backyard living space. Here, the changes from the initial 2D design concepts become immediately noticeable. Instead of the outdoor gym space, the covered patio has been expanded to fill the leftmost corner. Below the custom pergola is additional seating space, while the kitchen and outdoor bar extend in a peninsula.
Moving left, the homeowners step across a series of concrete steppers and into their outdoor dining area. The steppers on each side of the dining space create an island-like effect. We always look to find a way to distinguish functional areas of a backyard living space without isolating them from one another. Breaking up hardscaping is just one way of achieving this effect.
With the pergola expanded, we ended up relocating the firepit to the right side of the dining area. Cornered on one side by an L-shaped bench, there is plenty of room for seating without creating crowding on the narrow patio. In this rendering you can also see the change in grade. To access the main home, the clients ascend a staircase onto a small landing, further distinguishing the transition between indoor and outdoor living areas.
Now, while we expanded the covered kitchen and patio, we were careful to retain the elements that were most important to our clients. This means that the vegetable planters seen in both Concept A and B’s design have been removed to accommodate the outdoor gym. Seen above, this outdoor gym is covered by a pergola that mimics the one above the kitchen and living space. To the left, a patch of sports turf allows for comfortable body-weight workouts. Gym equipment is easily set atop the continued paver patio.
Finally, the homeowners continue from their outdoor gym space back along the right side of the home. Three large fruit trees create shade above an auxiliary gravel patio, creating a private natural space for our clients to unwind, read a book, or simply listen to the wind rustle the leaves overhead.
Check Back For The Finished Project
After seeing the 3D renderings of the space, the clients made their final tweaks before giving the project the green light to move forward to construction. This is currently where the project is at.
While we are extremely excited to see the finished space, we also love walking through the design process. Watching a design evolve and come to life never gets old. Whether we’re brainstorming with the homeowners, or putting the final touches on a 3D render, each step of the process is equally important.
To see the completed space, check out our blog. Each month we bring you behind the scenes looks at finished and in-progress designs, as well as advice for your next outdoor project. For a behind the scenes look at construction, designs, new projects, and outdoor design Q&A’s follow us on Instagram.