It’s hard to believe that what is now a stunning contemporary home and garden in California was a completely empty, derelict site just over a year ago. When landscape architect and garden designer Scott Shrader was introduced to the new owners by San Diego architectural firm Island Architects, the area had been cleared of an old beach house, and was effectively a blank canvas.
The site is tight and narrow and the architects made the best of that for the new build. ‘The owners were extremely open to all the ideas we presented,’ explains Scott. The architects were also more than happy to join forces with Scott and this collaboration has worked to great effect.
‘I chose exterior materials for the house itself and created a stucco texture that included crushed oyster shell to give the house the feeling that it had come straight out of the sand or a beach environment,’ he explains. ‘While it’s subtle, the oyster also helps to give the stucco dimension and a slight sheen.’
Scott also selected the interior floors: ‘The house required an indoor-outdoor feel so the materials needed to blend effortlessly. I opted for limestone that was used on the ground floor as well as the rear garden since all the teak sliding windows open directly on to the backyard and pool garden,’ he points out.
The house itself is ultra-modern, so Scott and the owners decided that the outdoor space needed features that would contrast with this aesthetic, such as the 17th-century cattle-feeding trough that stands by the entrance gate.
‘We also decided to use mature landscape materials, many of which had to be crane-lifted on to the site,’ he says. ‘The entranceway includes reclaimed cobblestones to give the modern house a sense of age. We installed 100-year-old olive trees to add maturity, and covered the entire ground with a special gravel to give the garden its finished appearance.’
The Californian climate is similar to the Mediterranean climate with coastal breezes and influences, so practical considerations were important. ‘The entire site gets watered with soaker hoses and drip line as water is so scarce in California,’ explains Scott. ‘We needed to plant a garden that was “water wise” and low maintenance, but would also have enough impact to hold up to the very bold architecture of the house.’
Simple Carolina cherry hedging combined with agave, boxwood globes, the olive trees and succulents were used as focal points throughout the garden. ‘It’s a calm, beautiful combination that doesn’t feel cold or contrived,’ says Scott.
The most difficult part of the brief was to create an intimate space with some privacy for the owners. ‘They are completely thrilled with the results,’ Scott confirms. ‘Having clients who truly love their home and garden is the best part of a project for me. It means we’ve done something that suits their needs and we know that they will enjoy the space for many years to come.’ www.shraderdesign.com