Triangular shaped backyards are the most challenging. The walls bring your eyes to a focused corner and if you’re not careful, they can get stuck there.

Here’s a project where we had the chance to rebuild the entire property walls and capture additional space on the outside (that was just Street frontage before). That gave us the ability to reshape the walls and use them as interesting independent panels, to create different vignettes.

The first move was to round out the back acute corner with a sweeping arc wall, to serve as the backdrop, which we rendered as a dark color to recede into the shadows. This allowed us to place a sculptural ironwood tree nestled into the new alcove, within a setting of craned in boulders and mounding, to create the primary focal point from the interior and exterior living spaces. Illumination And sunlight set the tree aglow, popping it off of the dark shadowy background.

To capture the reflections of this focal point, a cylindrical vanishing edge spa serves as a mirror, capturing perfect reflections. A textured basalt stone facing to the spa gives a shimmering cascade and a gentle soothing sound.

We created a secondary vignette via a freestanding concave wall, rendered in a rusty ochre hue to draw the eye, that receives you when walking the serpentine path into the yard, which in turn becomes the pool coping, and leads your eye directly to the alcove. Here we featured an array of Mexican fencepost cacti, silhouetted by backlighting that revealed the curve of the wall.

The fireplace and shade structure serve as the primary entertaining area. An exposed aggregate white concrete counter, polished to perfection, floated by steel beams, becomes the serving counter and central space from which to enjoy the view of this vibrant setting.


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This book of principles captures the elusive qualities that separate what is esteemed from the mundane. They elevate even simple projects to an art form.

Those who have studied the arts know these fundamentals; yet the finesse of implementing these insights consistently takes rigorous application few have attained. The masters integrate them intuitively and now you can have them at your fingertips.

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