A buildable, double lot in an established Boston neighborhood is rare, especially one that offers nearly unlimited potential to prioritize outdoor-focused living. This south-sloping property was carpeted with mown turf, and presented a twenty-foot grade change from front to back. The original structure, an unremarkable, dated colonial, was sited awkwardly to preserve two, separately developable lots. The existing home uncomfortably hugged the eastern property boundary and contradicted the established form of the surrounding neighborhood. A steep, narrow driveway leading to a basement level garage was dangerous and unwelcoming. A depleted, diseased hedgerow of invasive Norway Maples marched along the rear border, and distant views were completely obscured.

By most people’s standards, the combined three-quarter acre lot had too many limitations, but for these new owners, they saw exceptional opportunities to build a multi-layered home and garden that fully embraced family-focused, human-scaled, outdoor living spaces.

A spirited collaboration between the clients and their team reveals a handsome, new contemporary shingle-style home positioned thoughtfully upon the land.  The building’s footprint responds intelligently to the site and the considered placement of this home reveals seamlessly integrated indoor and outdoor rooms that support outdoor focused living throughout every season for the athletic family of five with pets.

Expertly-crafted stone walls and staircases cleverly define new spaces, and distinctively programmed outdoor rooms nestle purposefully into the terrain of the terraced back yard. A flat expanse of drought resistant turf invites athletic children to play frisbee, golf, and soccer, just a single step from the daylight basement. On the lawn’s west edge stands an exquisitely-crafted retaining wall that elevates an abundant kitchen garden filled with herbs. A promontory is formed, where on cool evenings, a custom fire table invites people to oblige post-dinner marshmallow roasts at dusk. On the upper level a natural cleft bluestone terrace overlooks the whole property. A staircase composed of lawn and antique granite risers harvested from the site, glides down the sculpted hillside, where gorgeous serviceberry trees embellish the vibrant new woodland garden.

In the heart of the property, immediately off the screen porch and nestled amongst ornamental grasses and abundant perennials, stands a custom granite and steel water feature, further embellishing the family’s outdoor enjoyment. The gardens are composed predominantly of durable, drought resistant natives that furnish excellent food and habitat for birds. New maples, shad, dogwood, and arborvitae trees are introduced for scale, while viburnum, clethra, blueberry, and winterberry provide excellent multi-seasonal displays of color.

The removal of invasive trees reveals exceptional views of greater Newton and beyond. Landscape spaces respond thoughtfully to new landforms replete with robust colonies of drought resistant plants that provide excellent privacy. The clients, avid birdwatchers, advocated strongly for wildlife sensitive planting strategies, and the property is maintained organically. An absorbent sedum roof collects and distributes stormwater while softening a master bedroom balcony.

Collaborators: Eck MacNeely Architects, Wellen Construction, Paragon Landscape Construction, Jennifer Palumbo Interior Design, Richmond So Engineers, Paradis Metal Works, Pond Creations By Sean, Stonecutter Farm, Perfection Fence, Rainfall Irrigation, Atlantic View Landscape Lighting, Lumen Studio, Bartlett Tree Experts, Olde New England Granite, Select Horticulture

2017 APLD Designer of the Year