Week of June 7, 2009

  • Elizabeth

    Hi John,

    I’m glad you revisited the backyard design today as I had a question to ask. The approach I considered was more about making the outside feel more like “outside” than “inside,” rather than the other way around. That is, having a more organic design with curved decks, less geometric structure. Even in Louis’ beautiful design I wonder about all the rectangles that you point out in this SH Report. I know plants etc will soften the right-angles, but I guess I wonder whether the outdoors could incorporate some curves or even(the dreaded!) diagonals to emphasize the natural nature feeling?

    I do get that we’d all want flow between the in/out spaces, but could the inside/outside feeling be achieved with welcoming doorways, decks relatively similar level to indoor floor level (i.e. within a step or 2), control of light where necessary (pergola)? I’ll stop now. Thanks for any comments.

  • John Brown

    Thanks for the thoughtful question. I think there are two issues at play.

    The first is a spatial one, which I consider to be the most important. Too many cookie cutter houses are enclosed boxes floating in the middle of a sea of grassed lawn. which is the idea of thinking of the garden. I think that the exterior spaces will be better used if they are treated as a series of spaces that are formed with wall like elements (trees, shrubs, and even fences and exterior garage walls) and floors (grass, decks, terraces, gravel, etc.). These spaces can then connect into the main spaces of the house through large window/doors so that the apparent living space of the house is extended out into the site.

    The second issue is the appearance of the exterior spaces and whether the surfaces and plants that define them are natural (curvilinear) or not. In my opinion this is more a question of personal choice and circumstance. Both types of garden design, informal and formal have strong historic pedigrees.

  • Ellen

    I have a comment about the “orchard.” Our house has two apple trees and two pear trees; they need to be professionally pruned every two or three years.

  • James Scott

    Good evening everyone,

    I appreciate John again highlighting the relationship between functional spaces, the corridors and the spaces they occupy as well. I must remind myself to look at the floor plans and site plans in that context. I’m sure it may come naturally one day.

    I also allowed myself to ignore the rear entrance as being unimportant enough to be given the same treatment or curb appeal as lets say the front entrance. On Louis’ plan the use of planning, materials and plant-scaping to highlight the value and importance of the rear entrance is an important lesson.

    Finally I appreciate the Front Entry – Comment Summary developed from the discussions during Tuesday’s Room By Room segment. Certainly many more concerns than most of us thought initially.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    Hey John
    How do we get to the Entry episode? I didn’t a link off of the main page.