Rooms with a View

A multifaceted landscape crafts unique experiences and revitalizes aged structures, offering convenience and enchantment at every turn.

“Before we began this project, it was critical that we understood how the client likes to use their outdoor space and live in different areas,” Mariani Design Principal Sara Furlan said. “One of the guiding lights to emerge was the idea of creating different outdoor rooms and experiences. So, there’s the front yard, the front courtyard, the basque of trees connecting front to back along the southern perimeter, the upper terrace immediately adjacent to the house, the middle lawn and fire ring, the space outside the primary bedroom, the patio overlooking the pool, the pool experience below the bluff’s edge, and the beach area below.”

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The property sits on a very vertical piece of land on the lakefront, on a bluff way above the water. The previous terrace walls were very poorly constructed and were failing. Additionally, the relationship to the view of the lake was off. One of the big ideas was to manage the relationship of views on the bluff to the lake, so you could actually see the lake from all sides of the pool and not be looking at a wall. Another insight that was very subtle is when you’re looking at the lake from the house, more than half the back of the property is tiered down and out of sight. So, we created two beacons by planting two large trees at the east end of the property that extend above the sight line so you have a visual reference and understanding that there’s more over on the other side of that perennial border.

Whenever we’re working on the lake, we never want to obstruct views—having foreground, middle ground and background is always important—but the lake is always the star. We need to think about how those layers create to the three-dimensionality of the property and, thus, make it more interesting. We could just have a big lawn out to the lake but it’s far more captivating to have something that perforates your view. Adding interest up front is a way to do that artistically. So, we worked to create these tiers that met all the city codes, so you didn’t have to have a railing right next to the house, for example. Instead we tiered it very gracefully and then planted another tier.

The other significant decision was changing the pool level and how it was accessed. We took what was handed to us and made the most of it. Moved stairs, got rid of stairs and created new structures. We created a covered seating area along the side of the pool into the bluff and created access around it down the middle where it was previously side-loaded. It changed everything. We eliminated some pretty antiquated, poorly constructed pool houses so where there were four structures, there are now two with a pergola. We created privacy on both sides of the property. There’s a public park to the south and a home to the north that towers above us. Having the loggia on the side of the pool creates privacy from both, as well as some major plantings that will continue to mature.

 “Our clients appreciated our skills and our talents and let us do what we do,” said Furlan. “They asked great questions and they were interested, but they didn’t second guess. Mostly they just wanted to understand why things were where they were. This is the last house they’re going to build and live in. This is where their family and friends are—this is home.”

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