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San Jose Landscape Design Challenge: Custom Pergola, Paver Patio, and Plenty of Seating

In today’s San Jose landscape design challenge, we take a quick look at a top to bottom transformation in the Bay area. When we first walked through this space, it was largely an empty canvas with plenty of potential. While some existing landscape and hardscaping did exist, the homeowners were looking for major modernization and upgrade.


Before Photos; Introducing the Space


A look at the initial space.The homeowners were eager to upgrade the existing landscape and hardscaping.

In a series of conversations with the clients, we were able to boil down their wishlist to a succinct list of items. At the top of their list was a covered outdoor kitchen, space for seating and dining, a fire pit, and a luxury pool and spa. When it came to design aesthetics, the homeowners were interested in a modern, sleek take on a funky California design.

Another look at the initial space. The outline for the future pool can be seen in spray paint.

Once we had determined the client’s style preferences and list of must-haves, we began the design process. Like all of our projects, we began by presenting two, 2D renderings. We do this in order to prevent the overwhelm that sometimes comes with jumping over initial design concepts straight into 3D renderings.


Presenting in 2D first helped us to work with the clients and determine what layouts, materials, and directions would and would not work with their lifestyle and preferences. During this process, they were able to make tweaks and point out elements from each design that either were or were not working for them.


From here, we proceeded through a set of 3D renderings to bring the space to life, and further hone any edits or adjustments to the future space. Finally, we were able to lock the final design into place and proceed with construction. The finished result was a beautiful, funky, modern outdoor space for this San Jose home.


The Finished Space

When the construction process was over, everyone involved was thrilled with the final results. From the lighting design, to the mix of materials, to the finishing touches in furniture and styling, this San Jose backyard is almost unrecognizable from its initial form.


Looking from the home out over the pool and spa. The fire pit can be seen in the distance.

Stepping out of the home, the clients find themselves on their brand new paver patio, laid out in a modern, geometric chevron pattern that breaks up the long lines of the rest of the design. From here, the homeowners can access every other area of their outdoor space in just a few steps. They can head right and step into their new, covered kitchen, cannonball directly into the pool, or follow the unique paver pathway around toward the fire pit at the perimeter of the property.


The fire pit, set atop a concrete stepper patio which is inlaid with grass.

Moving around to the perimeter of the property, a new fire pit creates a cozy space to huddle up and relax without cutting off access to the pool. Set atop a series of large, concrete steppers, the hardscaping is inlaid with grass. This works to soften the overall design and tie it in seamlessly with the rest of the green space. The clients furnished the space with simple modern furniture in a natural wood finish.


Looking from the back corner over the yard, over the lawn and luxury spa.

Stepping away from the fire pit, the inlaid grass opens up to a full stretch of lawn with uninterrupted access to the brand new pool and spa. The pool, seen above, is finished with sleek stone coping and features a convenient automatic cover. All around the space, lighting takes the backyard from day to night in style. From the in-pool lights, pathways, patios, and spotlights, there’s no area of the space that becomes inaccessible after sunset.


The new outdoor kitchen, bar, and custom fabric pergola cover.

Completing the space is one of the biggest functional additions. The clients were eager to have a functional outdoor kitchen and bar, as well as a covered living space to increase practicality. To accommodate this, we designed a custom wooden pergola. The geometric frame upholds the lines of the overall design, while the sail-like fabric softens the space in keeping with the subdued color palette.


The bar provides opportunities for outdoor dining and cooking, as well as another entertainment space. Guests can take a seat along the bar and engage in conversation with their hosts. This layout mimics the open layout of an indoor kitchen and dining space, bringing the comfort of interiors to the outdoors.


This San Jose landscape design challenges all of the best elements of what we do at Water and Earth. Collaboration with clients took center stage in the formation of the design, while elevated materials, custom structures, and unparalleled attention to detail take the finished space to the next level.


Check out more projects like this one.

Feeling inspired? There’s more where this came from. Check out more about our design process or get your most pressing question answered over on our blog.


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