California Dreaming
Elizabeth Nielsen

California Dreaming

SUBU Design Architecture 建築家 として

It was seven months into the Pandemic of 2020, at its height, the Client reached out and said that she needed to create an outdoor gathering space for her large family to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Her underutilized front and rear yard have been neglected while she and her husband were busy with their high demand positions in law and finance along with raising three kids. Now that they spend more time at home, they would like to focus on their family. The kids, now teenagers, no longer need the large play structure. They need a more sophisticated and hipper hang out space. We also needed to make sure that a party of 16 could sit and chat comfortably 6 feet apart to deal with the rules at the time.

photo_credit Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen

Meanwhile, the garden must be productive, and designed as an elevated kitchen garden. We took to the task by looking at the outdoor space architecturally with planting in mind. We sectioned off a formal al fresco dining area, an informal seating area around the firepit, and a well-equipped outdoor kitchen under the existing deck (despite the appliance shortage during the Pandemic). It was a juxtaposition between a controlled built environment and yet allowing the organic nature of planting to flow.

photo_credit Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen
photo_credit Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen

We wanted to create an experience to tell the story with visual, olfactory, and auditory perceptions. We started by creating raised vegetable garden boxes on the front yard slope surrounded by pungent rosemary and sweet-smelling mint as an introduction to the edible garden beyond. The garden path, lined with ruby red strawberries and citrusy thyme as groundcovers, led you to the rear yard.

photo_credit Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen

As you travel down the path, it opens up to the to the rear property where you can see the coastline framed by two distinct seating areas flanked by fruit trees that include a variety of citrus, apples, avocado, and kumquat tree. The south seating area is an al fresco dining area framed by fragrant lavender with soothing sound of cascading fountain and warmth from an outdoor fireplace.

photo_credit Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen
photo_credit Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen

The firepit is surrounded by 30 linear feet of cushioned seating area for large gatherings with plenty of room to spread apart. To separate the property line from the adjacent property below, we created a lush grapevine and berry fence to serve as the horizon line for the sun to set over the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Now the pandemic is over, the garden has matured. The busy family has been able to take a minute to pick the strawberries from the garden and enjoy the sunset seated next to the warmth of the fireplace by living outdoors.

photo_credit Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen
photo_credit Elizabeth Nielsen
Elizabeth Nielsen
Project Spotlight
Product Spotlight
ニュース