INSTALLATION INSIDER: BIG FEATURES, SMALL SPACE
Maryland-based Botanical Decorators builds a detailed Virginia estate.
When Botanical Decorators arrived at this Virginia site, there was no driveway. Nothing had been developed around the home, so landscape designers essentially were working with a blank slate.
Yet the client – a single, mortgage company owner – did have a few requests.
First, he wanted an outdoor dining area and a place where he could “throw up a tent and entertain hundreds of people.” He also wanted large water features, parking for four cars, a grilling station, an outdoor fireplace and an arbor.
But not just any arbor – the client wanted his to resemble something he’d seen in a Miami hotel.
“He actually flew our president down to the hotel on a private jet to take a look at what he wanted to model it after,” says Botanical Decorators designer, Brian Hahn.
Taking those requests into consideration, Hahn and his colleagues began designing a three-quarter acre property that could both feel larger and more isolated than it actually was. The client wanted his contemporary, Asian-inspired grounds to appear expansive, but he also wanted heavy screening from a nearby neighbor and main road.
“So we put a European-style parking court in the front and we decided to divide the property into three different areas to make it feel like an estate,” Hahn explains.
Botanical Decorators used different paving patterns to give each area its own flavor, and unique materials helped make everything stand out.
“We matched stone walls to the house, used custom railings and helped him design all the iron work. We used all granite cobblestone, all smooth flagstone and the pergola is actually made of Brazilian walnut. Another thing is all the light fixtures on the house and everything we built into the landscape and parking court are all lit by natural gas. Everything is truly detailed – we left nothing to chance – and the client let us make a lot of the design decisions.”
One decision that wasn’t made by Botanical Decorators was the request to protect and save six historic trees throughout the property. But out of the six trees, only a single large cypress was in good health. The rest eventually needed to be removed.
Other problems with the project included working around the property’s poorly drained west side and engineering the outdoor entertainment systems and sub-terrain water feature.
“There was only a certain location we could put all the mechanicals for the front fountain. There is a huge 10-foot by 12-foot vault buried that holds everything. Another element that was very difficult was that all the lighting, the fountain and the outdoor audio system is programmed into a wall-mount computer inside the house. And because of limited space, all that wiring and stuff that was buried under ground was very difficult to work with.”
Still, it only took Botanical Decorators six months to design and build the entire property, thanks to more than 50 workers and subcontractors. And Botanical Decorators landscape says the final result is quite elegant.
“It shows how even the most unusual spots on the property were utilized to bring a true estate feel,” explained Hahn. “Plantings are simple and traditional, and the use of old-world materials in a clean design is what made this project work.”