Article by Michelle Heslop. Photos by Jody Beck.
When this semi-retired couple from Calgary was looking for a home in Victoria, the lush landscape of a contemporary Oak Bay home was one of the driving forces behind their decision to buy. While the inviting outdoor “living room” complete with fireplace is the star attraction, the tiered water feature brings the wow factor to this west coast contemporary landscape. Designed by Duane Ensing of Duane Ensing Landscape Solutions, the aim of the design was to create a few outdoor spaces that would “activate the outdoors from within the interior.”
“Natural light orientation and warmth played an important role in the design as the sun pans across the sky and neighbouring foliage allows and blocks the sun’s exposure,” says Ensing.
Extending the habitable space of their west coast home, the south-facing patio in the front, is defined by natural materials, comfort and an alluring warmth. “Thoughtfully designed to enhance privacy, the patio also includes a gas barbeque outlet and speakers to add to the comfort and enjoyment of the outdoor space,” says the homeowner.
“Our favourite part of the landscape, this area is perfect for relaxing with a book or entertaining friends; the fireplace and cozy blanket add just the right amount of warmth on an evening.”
Creating a seamless transition between indoor and outdoor living, Ensing designed a dining area for entertaining in the back of the home. Double glass doors off the kitchen and a lit staircase invite you to the rich greenery of the private outdoor oasis.
The owner adds that “the landscape design was very appealing to us because we knew it would allow us to enjoy the beauty of the garden area at different times of the day and in all seasons. We thoroughly enjoy the combination of the park-like lushness of the garden with the serene water feature next to the dining area.”
Concrete, stone and water come together to form a natural architectural centrepiece, bringing a soothing quality to the landscape. “The tiered ponds create a sensorial transition from the outdoor dining area to the abundant gardens and purpose-built studio. Visual interest and a calming quality animate the landscape in a way that complements the home’s design and draws you into the garden,” states Ensing.
Ensing‘s goal was to connect the home and landscape with a rhythm that celebrated the clean modern lines of the home and transitioned the landscape with a rock component.
The design included a versatile patio area outside the studio to allow the owners a multipurpose space for tooling and messy workshop projects. The organic curves of the garden beds were intentional to temper the clean lines of the home’s geometric design. The owners add that “the deer proof garden beds and lush lawns soften the streetscape and welcome visitors to the fully developed landscape that surrounds the house.”
The back garden features an extensive variety of flowering and fruit-bearing trees, an array of perennials and two raised vegetable beds. “The variety of vegetation, the length of the growing season, the climatic zone and the near absence of snow and ice are all features that enable us to enjoy the landscape features of our home in a way that we could not in Calgary.”
Adjacent to the over-sized cedar door at the front entrance, the subtle stainless-steel water feature greets guests with an eye-catching and welcoming feel.