An elegant, rambling house, a marble alfresco island, sophisticated scrollwork chairs, and a lion’s head water spout — they’re all elements of a contemporary French landscape design, as executed by Zeterre Landscape Architecture of Los Altos, California. Here attention to detail is as important as “period” feel: notice the diamond-patterned stone fountain wall in the pool, the narrow, precisely trimmed boxwoods at the front door, the gently curving railings and integrated stone benches. The landscape is lush without being extravagant or gaudy; neatly edged lawns create a tailored, formal-garden feel. The predominant color for poolside planters is white, while bright splashes of orange lilies and purple foliage complement native grass accents in a table centerpiece.
In some senses, this is a study in contrast: the home is understated cream-colored stone with a formal ambience, while the back yard and pool area are completely casual: note the wicker chairs around an easy-care glass-topped table, and plenty of low-slung loungers positioned for great sunbathing. And the remainder of the yard is set up for entertaining ease as well — at one end of the inviting pool, a cabana matches the style of the main house while providing a cozy nook, complete with fireplace, for lingering over a glass of wine or cup of coffee. Wood fencing provides unobtrusive privacy screening, in pleasant counterpoint to the low brick retaining walls holding terraced beds. Bathed in sunshine, open to fabulous views of sky, and classic in mood: that’s this wonderfully private backyard in French Contemporary style.