BOOK YOUR
FEASIBILITY STUDY

Made possible by our in-house service offerings, this in-depth review provides insight in to the major components of your project from a high level view, and provides clear steps forward to determining the feasibility of your requirements, and achieving them.

Our team will assess and review the following project components with you:

  • The Role of Sketching, Sun Studies, and 3D Design
  • Zoning By-Laws
  • Lot Grading and Natural Features
  • Custom Home Design Process and Proposal Review
  • Interior Design Process and Proposal Review
  • Permit Timelines

You will receive the following:

  • Zoning Study
  • Custom Home Design Proposal and process
    Breakdown
  • Interior Design Proposal and Process Breakdown
  • Detailed Construction Cost and Scope of Work
    Breakdown (If Applicable)

THE ROLE OF
LANDSCAPE DESIGN
IN CREATING

A COHESIVELY
LUXURIOUS ENVIRONMENT
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THE ROLE OF LANDSCAPE DESIGN

Throughout our website, social media posts, and our client meetings, our firm echoes the benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach that thinks of the home design process from every angle. This approach is taken with the intention of creating a seamlessly timeless and cohesively luxurious environment that meets your functional and lifestyle needs. To create this effect, Jesse utilizes custom home design, interior design, and landscape design while practicing sketching and sun studies.

One of the most important angles of his approach, and the one that is most often forgotten about when seeing through the design process, is specifically landscape design. While there are a number of reasons that homeowners approach the landscape design process last, we wanted to provide some insight into why we consider landscape design to be an unavoidable part of any custom home design plan that our firm commits to creating.

If we had to offer our viewers an example of the role of landscape design in Jesse’s custom home design process, we would best explain it as the shoes of your outfit.

They're not usually the first thing you look at, but they bring everything together and are an unavoidable item anyone thinks of when dressing themselves. They also serve a functional purpose- for example, you don’t want to wear heels on a hike.

WHY-WE-DO-THEM

In the context of custom home design, we think about this in the same way when, during the phase of selecting window sizes and placements, Jesse is thinking about what you see through those windows. Is it a grass-filled backyard, or is the window symmetrically aligned with a pool, outdoor tanning beds, or a fire pit lounge? He is also thinking about the amenities he is including based on the intended lifestyle and functional requirements.

By integrating this design discipline from the beginning, Jesse is able to use his initial sun study to optimize the placement of exterior amenities, along with his hallways and windows, creating symmetry that contributes to the indoor/outdoor connection. After all, we believe that the backyard should feel like an extension of the interior living spaces.

WHY-WE-DO-THEM
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THE BENEFITS OF LANDSCAPE DESIGN THROUGH THE EYES OF THE PRINCIPLES.

Image2 Creation of an Indoor/Outdoor Connection:

Your backyard should serve as an escape that is truly an extension of your living room. While this can be designed in a way that supports entertaining, family fun, or larger events, there’s a few features that we strongly recommend to create this indoor/outdoor connection. When working towards the creation of this connection, Jesse and I believe that the first step is reducing any possible visual barriers in the eyes of a guest, which is of utmost importance. This approach considers even the most minor details, such as recessing sliding or accordion doors into the foundation to eliminate a curb you have to walk over when entering and exiting interior spaces. Another great example of this relates to the home's floor plan layout, which should prioritize easy access to these exit doors and exterior amenities through the use of optimized room flow. It is examples such as these that speak to the importance of thinking about the function and flow of both interior and exterior spaces as one.

A larger component that supports this approach includes the use of symmetry to align exterior amenities and gardens with window placement plans noted in the initial floor plan sketches. This design feature offers luxurious views from the interior, while naturally increasing the indoor/outdoor connection. One of our favourite examples of this is the positioning of gardens in front of windows, specifying plants that serve as live art pieces as they change colour through the seasons, and layering in the use of ambient garden lighting. Through this technique, Jesse is able to create an inviting sense of warmth that radiates through both interior and exterior spaces, bringing the outside in.

The creation of exterior living spaces that can be climatized and used year-round is another great example, including covered loggias with in-floor heating, exterior kitchens, and exterior fireplaces. We would normally enclose these areas using large format accordion doors that offer a comprehensively weatherproof space. To make these spaces feel even more like a well-conditioned interior space when needed, we recommend the use of outdoor washable rugs, exterior chandeliers, weatherproof televisions, and outdoor furniture that offers the same plush comfort that indoor furniture normally would.

Lastly, pool and guest houses serve to offer a luxurious amenity that creates a “visual extension” of the home, creating a compound-esque feel. The result is that the home feels sprawling, as if it extends to every corner of the plot, especially when the auxiliary structure is cohesively designed to match the home’s main structure.

Designing With the Topography and Natural Features In Mind.

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When designing a home, it is important to consider the surrounding landscape to ensure that the custom home design, interior design, and landscape design blend harmoniously with the exterior environment. When designing custom homes for properties that have unique topographical and natural features, Jesse draws on the design influences of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. His approach is one that focuses on the home seeming as if it grew out of the plot naturally, respecting these natural features and using them to create a unique connection to the surrounding nature. This framework was the impetus behind Jesse’s approach for the Alpine Lakehouse project shown to the right.

Jesse’s use of sketching was integral in determining the best way to work with the topography and the opportunities it presented. The home sits atop a hill, offering the chance to create a walkout basement that has floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as using the unique three-story massing exposed at the rear from the lakeside. This massing was used to heavily characterize the boathouse and guest suite views, as well as the outdoor amenities, an approach that is truly a pillar of creating a “cohesive environment”. Our definition of this approach isn’t centred around fancy finishes but instead, the idea that no stone is left unturned when seeking to create a consistent level of design intention no matter where you stand throughout the grounds. By this standard, Jesse was also able to use this steep grade to ensure that the boathouse was set down on the hill low enough so that the views of the lake from the living room were unobstructed.

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The Creation of a Cohesively Luxurious Environment:

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When designing a home, it is important to consider the surrounding landscape to ensure that the custom home design and interior design blend harmoniously with the exterior environment. Landscape design can help soften the edges of the home, helping to personify the intended design style while creating a seamless connection to the surrounding natural features. The use of natural elements like plants, armor stone, and water features can also enhance the visual appeal of the design, making it more inviting and appealing to the eye. The goal is that from the minute you enter the driveway, the house, or the backyard, visitors are wrapped in a consistent level of detailed design, creating an environment that feels cohesive from front to back. While many believe that this effect can be achieved by thinking about landscape design after the fact of the homes construction being completed, we beg to differ. A clear example of this is being able to design the corner window details in the sketch below that were specifically designed and placed to look out onto gardens with lighting and unique plant selections that Jesse curated, all while optimizing the morning sun.

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Exterior Landscape Design Compliments Exterior Architecture

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Depending on the nature of the design style (or styles) you are trying to achieve, exterior landscaping can serve to highlight one specific style or marry two styles together cohesively. We achieve this effect through the use of historic or outwardly modern and sleek stonework and style-specific shrubbery and tree selections with mutual species common to the area of the origins of the design style at hand if possible. Exterior tree lighting and wall washers can highlight and compliment the proportions of the structure as well, serving to draw attention to design features that clearly identify the intended style. Below is one of our favourite examples of the utilization of wall washers in a 3D rendered model, helping us understand how the structure will look during the late evening and night hours. These models also help us understand the feel and ambiance of the exterior entertainment setting. A great example of this is our Alpine Lakehouse project where Jesse designed intricately lit gardens with specific native plant species selections to add a touch of natural authenticity.

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Exterior Plant Selections Characterize the Interior

The shrubbery you select for your gardens that are situated close to large windows in common areas play an important role in your home design that most don’t realize. These plant selections add a touch of colour and texture to each space, and this of course changes during different seasons (for example, if they are lightly dusted with snow, or if leaves change colours). Utilizing specific plant selections as a tool to create a range of seasonal colours and features offers a touch of natural beauty in each room that we cant replicate. It also allows you to utilize garden lighting to create a sense of warmth and ambient lighting for both exterior and interior spaces during the evening and early morning hours. This lighting is also used to highlight specific trees and plants while offering visibility for walkways in the absence of direct lighting. Below, we have included a photo of our Contemporary English Country home, where the intentional placement of a garden is framed beautifully by the floor-to-ceiling window in each bedroom space, complimenting the natural earthy palette that characterizes the interior.

Municipal Planning and Construction Process Efficiencies

The municipal planning process can significantly benefit from the integration of landscape design clarifications when submitting your zoning drawings for review. Providing information from a registered arborist upfront that assesses the impact of the home’s construction on the surrounding tree roots, identifying if any trees could be harmed, and providing a comprehensive replanting plan if this will be the case. These steps are often refreshingly proactive steps to take from a city examiner's point of view, as this documentation will almost surely be requested in most cases. In addition to this, offering sediment control plans when working in ravine zones, offering detailed grading plans, outlining the locations of soft-scape and hardscape areas, pool size and locations, and the locations of any desired auxiliary structures such as cabanas, pool houses, and garden suites are all important factors to consider as they can affect zoning as well as your conservation authority approval timelines.

In addition to this, outlining planting plans and detailed instructions for each species offers construction teams a wealth of clarity through the process of bringing Jesse’s designs to life. By outlining tree locations, we are also able to ensure that trenching plans for services such as pool heaters, gas lines, garden lighting, and other features are routed in their designated areas to avoid risk of compromising critical infrastructure.

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By understanding the landscape design plans, everyone involved in the project is able to work together harmoniously, and construction sequencing can be arranged around the most efficient and cost-effective route. This naturally takes place as a result of informing contractors of predetermined locations for mechanical equipment for example. In this scenario we are also able to design the backyard so that there is a dedicated location for this equipment so it is out of sight, and in an area where we can reduce noise levels for neighbouring properties as well as your backyard entertainment area. Another great example of this level of planning benefitting our clients is when we knock down an old home that has small walkways leading to the backyard. In this scenario, our teams would excavate and install in the pool base before the new foundation forming/pouring starts while access is available. Lastly, and one of the best examples that most don’t think of until its too late, is being able to understand where specific trees go to avoid running mechanical through those zones.

Underground trenches that are home to conduits can easily be laid as a precaution to avoid mishaps down the road when doing landscaping, but they will get in the way of gardens, pools, shed foundations, and sprinkler feeds. The goal is to master plan the landscaping from a high level in order to accommodate all of these items and to ensure the most cost and time-efficient construction scheduling.Underground trenches that are home to conduits can easily be laid as a precaution to avoid mishaps down the road when doing landscaping, but they will get in the way of gardens, pools, shed foundations, and sprinkler feeds. The goal is to master plan the landscaping from a high level in order to accommodate all of these items and to ensure the most cost and time-efficient construction scheduling.

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Increased Water Management Capabilities

Designing a landscape plan allows you to efficiently and effectively hide any water management tools required to capture water from the roof of the home while avoiding flooding or additional strain on the homes weeping tile system. Tools such as underground drains that take roof runoff water into french drains or soaker pits are great ways to take as much water as possible away from the foundation of the home. In addition to this, the ability to design the proper sloping and directions of the necessary swales in the hardscaping plan is far easier from a high level view! So is designing the roof sloping and water run off locations in conjunction with the landscape plan swale plan. The result is typically that you can pick your downspout locations in advance, allowing you to hide these as much as possible and avoid their placement in the front of the home.

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Basement Light Wells: Another great example of an integrated custom home design, interior design, and landscape design approach is the creation of the basement light well at our Contemporary French row house in downtown Toronto. The wall of the window well was extended into the backyard as deep as the rear deck (almost 10 feet of space that would have been otherwise unused). A floor-to-ceiling window was placed in this “window well” that served as a standout feature in the basement, allowing a wealth of South-facing natural light to enter this space. Of course, in Jesse’s usual fashion, low-maintenance shrubbery, pea gravel, and garden lighting were placed at the base of this window well, providing both a connection to the exterior as well as a unique ambiance during the evening hours.

JESSE’S FAVOURITE LANDSCAPE DESIGN STYLES

Jesse and I wanted to take this opportunity to share a comprehensive list of some of our favourite landscape design styles and examples of them!

Traditional Landscape Design

The traditional landscape design style is known for its symmetrical, balanced layouts, often featuring formal gardens with geometrically shaped shrubs and trees, and classic features such as fountains, topiaries, and statuary. Traditional landscapes often incorporate hardscaping elements such as brick or stone walkways, patios, and walls. The color palette is typically focused on shades of green with occasional bursts of color from flowers or foliage. Some famous examples of traditional landscape design include:

  • The gardens at the Palace of Versailles in France, which feature a formal French garden with geometrically shaped hedges, fountains, and ornamental pools.
  • The gardens at Villa d’Este in Tivoli, Italy, which are known for their terraced gardens, water features, and ornate fountains.
  • The Marqueyssac Gardens in Vézac, Dordogne, France.
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Modern Landscape Design

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The modern landscape design style emphasizes clean lines, geometric shapes, and a limited color palette. Materials such as concrete, steel, and glass are often used to create a minimalist, contemporary look. Modern landscapes often incorporate hardscaping elements such as pavers or decking, and are typically low-maintenance. Some famous examples of modern landscape design include:

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  • The Getty Center in Los Angeles, California, which features a modernist garden with a combination of native plants, succulents, and other drought-tolerant species.
  • The High Line in New York City, which is a public park built on an abandoned elevated railway that features a sleek, modern design with contemporary plantings.
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English Landscape Design

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The cottage landscape design style is inspired by the English countryside and features an informal, relaxed layout. Cottage gardens often include a mix of ornamental and edible plants, with features such as arches, arbors, and trellises creating a cozy, inviting atmosphere. Some famous examples of cottage landscape design include:

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  • Hidcote Manor Garden in Gloucestershire, England, which features a series of outdoor “rooms” with hedges, pathways, and cozy seating areas.
  • Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent, England, which is known for its informal cottage garden design, featuring a mix of colorful flowers and foliage.
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Mediterranean Landscape Design

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The Mediterranean landscape design style is inspired by the gardens of the Mediterranean region and features a mix of lush greenery, colorful flowers, and ornate features such as fountains, tiles, and stonework. Mediterranean landscapes often include terraces, courtyards, and pergolas, and are designed to create an outdoor living space that is comfortable and inviting. Some famous examples of Mediterranean landscape design include:

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  • Alhambra in Granada, Spain, which features a series of outdoor courtyards with lush plantings, ornate fountains, and geometric tiles.
  • Villa Lante in Bagnaia, Italy, which is known for its Renaissance-style garden design, featuring terraces, water features, and topiary sculptures.
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Japanese Landscape Design

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The Japanese landscape design style is inspired by traditional Japanese gardens and emphasizes simplicity, serenity, and harmony with nature. Japanese gardens often incorporate features such as water elements, gravel, and carefully placed rocks and plants, creating a tranquil, meditative atmosphere. Some famous examples of Japanese landscape design include:

  • Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan, which is known for its iconic rock garden, featuring 15 large rocks placed in a bed of white gravel.
  • Portland Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon, which is considered one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, featuring a traditional tea house, a bonsai collection, and a variety of garden styles, including a strolling garden and a sand and stone garden.
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Desert Landscape Design

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The desert landscape design style is designed for arid environments and features plants that are adapted to drought conditions. Desert landscapes often incorporate rock features, succulents, and cacti, and are designed to create a low-maintenance outdoor space that blends seamlessly with the natural environment. Some famous examples of desert landscape design include:

  • The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona, which features a wide variety of cacti and other desert plants, as well as a sculpture garden and a butterfly exhibit.
  • The Joshua Tree National Park in California, which is known for its striking desert landscape, featuring a unique blend of rock formations, Joshua trees, and other desert flora and fauna.
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