Perfect fit with the surroundings

Lafayette, CA. Nestled at the base of a steep hillside with gorgeous views of Northern California’s rolling hills, Brian and Cristen Godfrey’s charming small-space garden feels perfectly matched to its surroundings.

But just a few years ago, much of the land was overrun with a carpet of scraggly junipers 3 feet deep. A huge fir tree growing up through the junipers blocked much of the view. The only connection to the open space was a set of wooden steps that went straight up the hill.

Stefan Thuilot and Joseph Huettl made some dramatic changes. First they stripped the hillside of juniper and cut down the fir tree to improve the views. They also rerouted the stairs to make them more inviting and becoming. The new steps gently curve up the slope, leading the eye to the hills beyond.

Below the hill, a new flagstone-covered retaining wall expands the outdoor living area. An old, rotting deck was replaced with a handsome concrete-and-flagstone patio. A smaller deck was added off the bedroom, along with a new French door that improved access to the deck.

The hillside was replanted with an exciting palette of vibrant, California-appropriate plants, including California fescue, carex, catmint, coral bells, erigeron, ‘Garnet’ penstemon, lavender, Mexican bush sage, ‘Morning Light’ miscanthus, rosemary, and species geraniums. “The beautiful textures and colors make such a graceful transition to the open space,” observed a juror. All of the jurors agreed that it was an amazing transformation.

DESIGN: Huettl-Thuilot Associates, Lafayette, CA (925/937-6400)

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