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The back of the Italianate-style house overlooks a man-made pond, which landscape architect Sara Furlan edged
with native wetland plants. She seeded the sloped shoreline with no-mow fescue grasses.
“Our job begins where the windows and doors end, but it’s still always a good idea to have us there before breaking ground,” says landscape architect Sara Furlan of Mariani Landscape, who was called in early to help position a magnificent Lake Forest manse designed by Witmer & Associates. She ultimately situated it at the center of a well-thought-out landscape that perfectly suits a couple with a large extended family—including grandchildren who need room to romp—while giving the homeowners the vast, calming view of their dreams.
The terrace features a pool with a hot tub and a lawn where the grandchildren play. The grass gives the eye a
place to rest, Furlan points out. Limestone from Indiana and Wisconsin was used in the hardscaping.
The house’s positioning wasn’t just a question of which side should face the street. The lot the clients had purchased years earlier sloped down toward a man-made pond (owned by the neighborhood association) with a nature preserve beyond it. The clients loved the view, but Furlan knew that unlevel ground can be challenging to work with, both visually and practically. Erosion is always a concern with sloping terrain; plus, the couple wanted a swimming pool. To situate the house, Furlan outlined a parcel of tableland (the flattest, most livable space atop a bluff) that was just the right size and set the house on it in just the right way to accommodate everything from the driveway in the front yard to the pool in the back.
A pergola at one end of the yard balances the swimming pool at the other.
“We wanted the space immediately around the house to read as level,” says Furlan. She designed an elegant stone retaining wall around the periphery of the backyard and gave her clients a proper terrace, with flower beds and planters, a pool, an outdoor kitchen, and multiple seating areas. The grandness of the property is best experienced from the house’s back entrance on a pretty summer day: The owners can walk out through French doors, go down a few steps, stroll across the lush green lawn, and descend a stone stairway—which echoes the one at the level of the house—to the pond’s edge.
photography by linda oyama bryan
styling by christine oyama
2 weeks ago