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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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