We spoke with Landscape Architect, Andrew Ferrara on his holistic approach to exterior design, and how he creates resort style escapes for his clients.
I always had an interest in plants, architecture and art growing up. I knew I wanted to be a landscape architect even before I knew what it really was. I have a bachelors of landscape architecture from Michigan State University. My first job out of college was my dream job working for an international design firm EDSA Inc. based in Fort Lauderdale Florida. I designed and built numerous hotels, resorts, college campuses, parks etc. all over the world during my 8+ years there. We relocated to California in 2014 for my husband's job and I used that as an opportunity to break off on my own and began working on high end residential designs. Clients really seem to appreciate my clean aesthetic that definitely has a hotel vibe. The profession is quite extensive, but the short explanation is that I design everything outside of the house itself. The holistic masterplan for the property, all of the pool designs, outdoor kitchens, structures, water/fire features, plantings, lighting and furnishings fall within my wheelhouse.
I'm a pretty easy going guy and enjoy talking to my clients to get to know and understand them on a personal level. I want an understanding of how they live, how they entertain, their style, family structure, pets etc and I usually have a pretty good idea of what I would like to design after just one meeting. I go back to my desk and study the site and floorplans and then begin laying out spaces based on what I have learned about them. Sight lines and a sense of balance across a space is very important. I also try to find ways to relate the interiors and architecture itself to the outdoors to truly connect the two which is what California living is all about.
I spent some time evaluating what was there and came up with a way to edit out the bad while keeping the things that still work. Much of the original layout stayed relatively the same with some adjustments and fixed the areas that didnt work. I removed the things that were just plain ugly and incorporated everything my client had asked for to benefit how she lived in home. We covered the giraffe paving with a beautiful creamy Travertine which eliminated the visual clutter and saved a lot of cost by not demolishing what was there. Sometimes a space just needs rethinking rather than completely starting from scratch.
As I mentioned, sight lines are very important for drawing the eye and the people into each space. I like to create focal points with water features, fire, sculpture etc. and centering those elements on windows and doors achieve just that. Sight lines also help to organize any space. I can't stand when I walk into an environment and it just feels random and things are dropped into place, there should be a reason why everything is placed where it is. I often do the furniture layout first and then design the patio around that so there is a purpose to every square foot.
Take time to study your space and see which elements can work and which need to be rethought. Organize the space and never overcrowd with too many things if they really dont fit. I also always plant in large masses rather than 1s and 2s with a million different types of plants that can feel chaotic. I tend to use a fairly limited palette of plants and play with the textures and shades of green to create interest in a similar manner to color blocking. This creates a lush and interesting look without feeling too busy.
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