World renowned fashion designer Coco Chanel once said that “simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” This obviously holds true for more than clothing.

In landscaping, simplicity is often created with an abundance of details, and a well thought out design results in something that appears to be effortless. A space that is readily understandable by our eye and mind results in the feeling of relaxation and peace. Isn’t that what appeals to us as humans when we experience a space?

A landscape that allows a cluttered mind and a busy daytime routine to vaporize is what we idealize as an oasis. Simplicity is our first takeaway from this project spotlight.

This project spotlight is focused on a residential design and install that Inside Out Design completed in Lexington in 2018. This project won the 2021 International Gold Award from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers.

The home features architectural detailing that could be enhanced; however, the backyard lacked cohesion. A large walled outdated patio divided the yard and made it unusable, but existing arborvitae, pine and boxwood framed the periphery of the yard and provided a rare built-in mature screen and evergreen backdrop.

This project illustrates that simplicity is in the details — our second takeaway. What appears to be very simple required resourceful design and forethought. From hidden paver drainage, hidden automatic pool cover and pavement color selections, the details work together to create the illusion of an uncomplicated space. In addition, the existing architectural details of the of the home drove the design.

Our third takeaway is creating a cohesive design by complementing the existing elements of a space. The classic Colonial Revival inspired curved window hoods repeated throughout the home were replicated in the bed edge as well as in the arches of the pavilion. These elements were also an inspiration for the Roman ends of the pool hardscape design.

Rarely is quality landscape design created in a vacuum. Paying homage to existing architectural elements, setting, feeling, and even interior elements such as color choice, furniture and artwork, creates harmony and provides a stronger tie between the landscape and the homeowner.

Details and design are pointless without the use of high-quality and well-designed materials — our fourth takeaway from this project. Brick and large slab pavers add a touch of elegance and craftsmanship to the pool deck. Brick walkways and details help break up the design, yet create a cohesive look. The same brick and slab pavers are used throughout, with varying patterns to enhance the pool deck, pavilion and walkways.

Materials do not just include the manmade variety. The plant material, including white blooming native smooth hydrangea, dwarf buttonbush, dwarf inkberry, switchgrasses, beardtongue, allspice, sedge and cedar create a classic feel to complement the homeowner’s aesthetic. In addition, the mix of evergreen and deciduous provides year long beauty.

Perhaps the most astonishing result of this design is how much larger the space feels regardless of the added material, especially considering a pool was introduced. Removing the patio walls and creating a space that moves the eye vertically, encourages a feeling of openness that was not possible with the awkwardly divided original yard.

Openness is our fifth takeaway. Taking what is perceived as a small space and opening it up through landscaping and hardscaping often requires the trained eye of a professional designer. The outcome is worth the extra time and effort spent to assess the space in a unique way.

Simplicity, details, cohesive design, quality materials and openness are key ingredients for a well-designed space. Beyond just a good design, these elements work together to create true elegance and the end result is timeless.

Before, an over-structured and awkwardly divided space with no transitions. (Photo courtesy Inside Out Design)
After, paver and brick details create a unified feel and pay homage to the home’s architecture. (Photo courtesy Inside Out Design)
A walkway features reversed layout of clay brick and slab pavers. (Photo courtesy Inside Out Design)
Native smooth hydrangeas soften corners and soften hardscape. (Photo courtesy Inside Out Design)