Hidden Valley Garden by Grace Associates: From Parking Lot to “Pride and Joy”

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What happens when a new garage and parking area are added to an existing home? What’s left (and not paved over!) generally needs to be redone. That’s exactly what happened with this place in the foothills of Montecito; the owner called Grace Associates, and the designers dug in…literally. First, they built an additional stucco wall to separate the parking area — what they whimsically call the “garden motor court” — from plantings. One set of antique doors and an iron screen later, the new wall was covered with vines, and new cacti, while other succulents, in big ceramic pots, took their place on top of pebble mulch. Olive trees were also brought in, a touch that softens the walled look without interfering with parking.

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Now a flagstone walk meanders past a fountain, a fieldstone bench with colorful cushions, and upholstered wrought iron chairs and green soapstone end tables — the owners’ new favorite sitting area. Similarly, other landscaping was “cleaned up”: a porch and several patios were given updated furnishings, colors, and potted plants. The home’s front door received a vine-draped pergola; old random fruit tree growth was taken out, replaced with a small “orchard” bordered with star jasmine and filled with fun sculptures, among them one of the famous Chicago “cows.” Finally, a long slope of lawn was broken up with two new flights of steps, making it a grand, open space suitable for parties or events. The final beautiful picture is more than just a revamped garden: it’s a transformed outdoor living space in multiple “rooms” that is now the owners’ “pride and joy.”

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