By day it’s a crisp, streamlined pool and lounge area that segues into a spacious yard and gardens; by night it’s an elegant al fresco dining space up-lighted along pool steps and a line of sycamore trees. It’s the Ackley residence garden in Atherton, CA, by Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture. As the designers elaborate, “A long fireplace wall divides the geometries of the house, creating a gracious outdoor dining area that opens off the living room and onto the pool terrace.” A restful oasis, the fireplace creates a secluded, cozy nook that can handle conversation over a glass of wine or coffee “just for two”— or a crowd. Terraced gardens offset the lush green lawn; a stone courtyard features gingko trees and a fabulous gray stone fountain wall.
The “rooms” in this expansive space offer diverse moods and uses; the pool, of course, stands ready for quick laps or a sunbathing session on loungers in subtle blue. More blue crops up in stone beds, most notably not far from a small fire pit and backing a lavish bed of heather. It’s sometimes hard to work with a steeply sloping yard, as this one is; the wash of flowers makes it flow in relaxing style, surrounded by low stone retaining walls and highlighted by lindens. Overall, the effect is simultaneously casual enough for quiet family gatherings and roomy enough for a party to spread out and play. And always, there’s the serenity of green: in carefully trimmed shrubs and tall shade trees, allowing for just a peek of starlight as the sun goes down.