Project Description

Our clients desired a major contemporary upgrade of their 70’s style house, and hired Crome Associates Architecture to redesign the house, and Simmonds & Associates to redesign the landscape.  The site required a major makeover, in both the style and functionality of the outdoor spaces.

Situated on a site with a steep cross slope and several old live oak trees, the land has been terraced into three important use areas.   The upper level area is the deck off the kitchen and dining room, with ample entertaining space at the kitchen end.  The space is divided by a see-through fireplace that creates a wonderful ambience from both the entertaining side, and from the more private spa area on the other side of the fireplace.  The spa area also takes advantage of the distant views of the Richmond-San Rafael bridge and the bay.  Descending from above the deck to the driveway below, the sloped garden includes meandering paths that allow access to more distant and quiet areas of the garden, and include a seasonal stream, planted with tree ferns and gunnera under the oak canopy.

The circular driveway and entry to the house form the second level area.  The driveway radiates out from a central, spectacular live oak tree.  The radial scoring pattern in the driveway accentuates the circle, which is juxtaposed against the contemporary rectilinear lines of the house.  The layered walls and plantings ascend from the driveway to the upper level in an interesting combination of materials, colors, and textures.  A focal living wall twelve feet high unites the two levels and screens the back side of the barbecue on the deck above.

The third level is a circular lawn that makes good use of the sunniest part of the property.  Below the lawn, the site is left in a natural state.  The stream reappears in this level, accentuated by rocks and boulders.  It is accessible from all levels of the house via a black metal spiral staircase that plays against a cream stone wall of the house.

Architecture:  Crome Architecture

General Contractor:  Kasten Builders

Landscape Contractor:  McArdell Landscapes

Ecological Attributes

  • “smart” controller adjusts irrigation times based on weather
  • hydrozoning for site microclimates
  • drip irrigation
  • green wall
  • GreenPoints rated
  • low water use plant selection
  • planting to attract beneficial birds, butterflies and insects
  • planting for habitat
  • edible fruits, berries and plants
  • LED lighting
  • defensible space fire management
  • fuel reduction strategies
  • stormwater management and erosion control