Living Shelter Architects joins Board & Vellum! Learn about the details here, and cheers to our expanded team!

Landscape Architecture for a New Home

Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House

Rebuilt from the ground up, this home’s landscape design revolves around the site’s existing mature trees.

We’re firm believers in outdoor spaces being extensions of your indoor ones, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they need to look or even feel the same. For this project — dubbed the Tree+House — the client sought out Sandall Norrie Architects and Swivel Interiors to design their stunning, ultra-modern home. On the outside, however, they were looking for a contrast – a soft, lush, and mixed-floral landscape highlighting their impressive views.

Our task was to complete the landscape in a way that complemented and highlighted the compelling and decisive design set by the architect and interior designer, while also providing spaces for key programming desired by the client.

The house itself is of a minimal and modern design in a collection of prominent, highly glazed, stacked boxes. Situated on a slope, the house feels safely nestled into the hillside despite its height, with spectacular views of Lake Washington and Mount Rainier. The landscape is designed to guide views to these locations while also protecting the home’s interior from prying eyes.

The house perches above the street, sheltered by landscaped terraces of stacked stone. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Rocky Terraces

The house perches above the street, sheltered by landscaped terraces of stacked stone. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Rocky Terraces

The house perches above the street, sheltered by landscaped terraces of stacked stone. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Where windows don’t take in water and mountain views, they are filled with the green of screening foliage and a vegetated roof over the lower level. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Views of Green

Where windows don’t take in water and mountain views, they are filled with the green of screening foliage and a vegetated roof over the lower level. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Views of Green

Where windows don’t take in water and mountain views, they are filled with the green of screening foliage and a vegetated roof over the lower level. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Trees reflect in the windows of a new home with a landscaped garden. – Residential landscape architecture by Board & Vellum.
Mature Trees

The site design centers around the property’s existing mature trees cloaking the home in lush greenery. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Mature Trees

The site design centers around the property’s existing mature trees cloaking the home in lush greenery. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

With the home rebuilt from the ground up, the architectural design relies heavily on the site’s existing mature trees for both visual screening and an intentional sense of “being in the trees” as part of the tree canopy – from every window, you see green.

These trees were essential to the home’s design and became essential in our design of the rest of the landscape. Mature magnolia and ash trees were preserved throughout construction as elements of the canopy-like feel prioritized by the architectural design team. When the ash was damaged and needed to be removed, we brought in mature trees to replace it, maintaining the tree coverage both for privacy and to preserve the original design concept.

Where the windows don’t engage with the tree canopy or focus on the views, green space still dominates. Fern plantings along the horizontal windows of a stairwell, a green roof above the lower level, and strategic trees planted to be perfectly framed in windows add subtle continuity to the exterior space by enhancing the sense of enclosure without boxing the home in.

The strong architectural lines of the home are complemented by the softness of frothy, meadow-like plantings. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Pairing Modern Lines with Soft Plantings

The strong architectural lines of the home are complemented by the softness of frothy, meadow-like plantings. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Pairing Modern Lines with Soft Plantings

The strong architectural lines of the home are complemented by the softness of frothy, meadow-like plantings. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Protecting the site’s mature trees during construction was paramount to maintain the design intent of a home that felt like a treehouse. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
A House in the Trees

Protecting the site’s mature trees during construction was paramount to maintain the design intent of a home that felt like a treehouse. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

A House in the Trees

Protecting the site’s mature trees during construction was paramount to maintain the design intent of a home that felt like a treehouse. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Delicate climbing vines break up the expanse of a concrete wall with visual interest, almost like a vegetated mural. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Climbing Vines

Delicate climbing vines break up the expanse of a concrete wall with visual interest, almost like a vegetated mural. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Climbing Vines

Delicate climbing vines break up the expanse of a concrete wall with visual interest, almost like a vegetated mural. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

This project brings together several seemingly contrasting concepts on one complicated site. Though the house is starkly modern, the clients sought a softer, prairie-like landscape. Our concept centered around these repeating juxtapositions: sharp versus curved, hard versus soft, clean versus textural.

Nearest the home, the shapes and plants closely mimic the home’s form, stretching the long, straight lines into the green spaces. Moving away from the home, however, gradually softer textures ebb and flow with the contours of the site without detracting from the home’s strong geometry. A mixture of textures and a spectrum of green vegetation both minimize the site’s irregular border and further accentuate the home’s form through their contrasting arrangement.

Within the garden, several programmatic elements were requested by the client, including a hot tub, a designated area for their dogs, and flexible gathering spaces. A large deck and patio extend from the home, connected via a floor-to-ceiling accordion door. Space for both lounging and formal dining extends the entertaining spaces outward while textural plantings soften the transition to the garden.

Locating the hot tub on a lower terrace from the main deck off the living space creates multiple social hubs while providing additional privacy for the hot tub. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Sheltered Hot Tub

Locating the hot tub on a lower terrace from the main deck off the living space creates multiple social hubs while providing additional privacy for the hot tub. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Sheltered Hot Tub

Locating the hot tub on a lower terrace from the main deck off the living space creates multiple social hubs while providing additional privacy for the hot tub. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Every window of the home looks out to a considered and designed view. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Landscaped Interest on All Sides

Every window of the home looks out to a considered and designed view. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Landscaped Interest on All Sides

Every window of the home looks out to a considered and designed view. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Anchored in textural greenery, floral plantings in the landscape introduce subtle touches of color. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Floral Accents

Anchored in textural greenery, floral plantings in the landscape introduce subtle touches of color. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Floral Accents

Anchored in textural greenery, floral plantings in the landscape introduce subtle touches of color. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

An arc of frothy grasses softens the lawn edge as it transitions to larger plants stepping down the hill. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Decorative Grasses

An arc of frothy grasses softens the lawn edge as it transitions to larger plants stepping down the hill. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Decorative Grasses

An arc of frothy grasses softens the lawn edge as it transitions to larger plants stepping down the hill. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Lush greenery full of textural interest complement the sharp lines of hardscape elements. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Verdant Detail

Lush greenery full of textural interest complement the sharp lines of hardscape elements. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

Verdant Detail

Lush greenery full of textural interest complement the sharp lines of hardscape elements. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Tina Witherspoon.

The limited palette of flowering plants creates the illusion of a naturally evolving landscape. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
A Simple Palette

The limited palette of flowering plants creates the illusion of a naturally evolving landscape. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Zack Thomas.

A Simple Palette

The limited palette of flowering plants creates the illusion of a naturally evolving landscape. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Zack Thomas.

Soft grasses accented with clumps of flowering plants taking in the sun create a meadow-like landscape. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
A Meadow in the City

Soft grasses accented with clumps of flowering plants taking in the sun create a meadow-like landscape. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Zack Thomas.

A Meadow in the City

Soft grasses accented with clumps of flowering plants taking in the sun create a meadow-like landscape. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Zack Thomas.

Below, another area with the hot tub doubles the gathering space, but with added privacy. Just out of sight, this space remains functional and connected to the other outdoor spaces but doesn’t interfere with the lines of the home or the shape of the garden.

A dog run and rain garden are also both inconspicuously arranged to add usability and beauty without detracting from the overall design.

Throughout the interior and exterior, these spaces celebrate the complementary tension between wild and reserved. Though seemingly at odds, their marriage creates a cohesive vision that celebrates both equally, letting their dissonance resolve into a harmonious design.

 As the daylight fades, the home glows like a lantern through the trees. – Laurelhurst Landscape at the Tree+House – Board & Vellum
Glowing Through the Greenery

As the daylight fades, the home glows like a lantern through the trees. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Glowing Through the Greenery

As the daylight fades, the home glows like a lantern through the trees. Laurelhurst Landscape | Photo by Andrew Giammarco.

Notes & Credits
Architecture by Sandall Norrie Architects.
Interior design by Swivel Interiors.
This project was built by March-MacDonald.
Photography by Andrew Giammarco, Tina Witherspoon, and Zack Thomas.

Want to learn more?

You’re welcome to take a look at our available services and other portfolio projects.

Services

Our design services encompass architecture, interior design, and landscape architecture, with teams specializing in projects across the spectrum, from single-family homes to multifamily and mixed-use buildings, and from boutique commercial spaces to civic spaces, like parks. We love designing the integrated fabric of structures, spaces, and places that create vibrant neighborhoods.

Portfolio

Our portfolio of work spans across a spectrum of project types and scales. We don’t have a particular “style” either: we love traditional, modern, contemporary, you name it. Our goal is to work with you to design a project you love.

Considering a project? Or, just curious about something?

Send us your questions about design, architecture, interiors, landscape, LEGO rooms… Anything, really. We’re always eager to meet new people, and we’d love to get to know you, your project, and your goals.

Get in touch.