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Mid Century Gem

This vintage Palmer & Krisel home cried out to be restored it to its vintage charm. In addition to the landscaping, we were asked to work on the exterior aesthetics of the house. 


We began by removing the patchwork of “updates” that left a confusing pastiche. At the front of the house, we removed a late addition window and veneer stonework. Starting over now with a clean slate, we chose a color palette of rich charcoal and warm coral-orange. Over the new smooth stucco finish, we built two custom vertical screens with natural cedar to break up the expanse of the front walls and replaced the dated garage door with a stunning cedar door. New concrete planters hold an exotic collection of cactii at the entrance. A period correct breeze block wall was built as a backdrop to the kitchen view and an industrial charcoal corrugated metal fence completes the leitmotif and creates privacy around the property. Sculptural agaves, succulents and California native plants punctuate the front landscape complementing the “arroyo seco” rain garden studded with boulders and branches.


In the back yard we started by curating the chaotic collection of trees giving precedence to the native Oak saplings that had found their way to the garden. The uneven back yard was graded into upper and lower levels with an industrial style, concrete wall. Linear pavers lead the garden stroller from place to place alongside a rain garden filled with swaying grasses that spans the side yard and culminates at a gracefully arching pomegranate tree, branches laden with impossibly red blossoms and fruit. A bubbling boulder water feature murmurs soothing sounds.  A large steel and willow-roof pergola creates a shady space to dine in and chaise lounges and chairs bask in the surrounding shade.  The transformation was completed with a bold and biodiverse selection of low water, climate appropriate plants that make the space come alive. An ethereal Palo Alto tree stands sentry in the upper level, where another serene seating area was created. Where once this was an inhospitable desert, the garden now it has a multitude of tranquil destinations to enjoy, serenaded by the calls of birds that have made their home there.


The elements of a sustainable habitat garden have been designed into the lush landscape. One hundred percent of rainwater runoff is diverted into the two large raingardens which infiltrate stormwater runoff into the soil. After building up the soil with tons of organic amendments, we added permeable hardscape elements, a water feature, native and climate appropriate plants - including an exceedingly low-water Kurapia lawn - and drip irrigation with a smart timer. With these practices we’ve created a sumptuous wildlife habitat that has become a haven for migratory birds & butterflies.

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