BRINGING JAPAN HOME
David Polifko • San Francisco • 3 years, start to finish
My Inspiration: The architecture of Japan, where I lived for five years in the 1990s.
Challenges: Budget and time. Solution: I divided the makeover into three separate projects and completed one a year.
Discovery: Working on the garden let me focus on something different from my venture-capital job; it inspired me to pursue a fine-arts degree too.
Advice: Have a vision and make a plan. Then stretch out the work depending on your time, budget, and energy.
Now ... My garden is the first thing I see in the morning when I look outside ― a great way to start the day.
Which project came first? Planning, and shaping the land. To extend the patio nearest the house, I dug out 5 cubic yards of soil and moved it to the yard’s far end, then built a retaining wall to keep it there.
Then the decks? Yes. I built three decks of different sizes, at three different levels. At the same time, I added a fence on the property’s west side ― stepped to follow the property’s slope ― and a covered bench and arbor.
And the teahouse? That came last, in spring '05. It’s a custom design, 8 feet square, with post-and-beam construction, a board-and-batten roof, shoji-style door, and wraparound deck. I angled the teahouse to fit the tight corner.
The best part? Seeing my vision come to life. And the cost: about $7,000 for materials and plants.
Next: Johnsons' Beach