The Site

Located in the Crescent Park area of Palo Alto, the home of 4300 sf sits on a 9500 sf lot. Julie Orr Design teamed with the client, their interior designer and home builder to renovate what the client now calls their “forever home.”

Not only was all the existing hardscape removed and the space reimaged from scratch but the home itself got a face lift with new windows, stucco and small architectural details (like removing the post that blocked the visual approach to the front door).  

Most of the mature trees were kept but tired and dated hedges were demolished to open up the space.

The “before” front yard
After a Julie Orr Design Remodel

The People

This couple were repeat clients from 2013 who were ready to sell their smaller home and upsize to a larger property for their expanding family needs. Julie Orr Design collaborated with SouthBay Design and Landscaping for a second time to design and build their new dream property.

With two simple mantra’s, the design unfolded:

  1. Keep it family friendly for kids and adults alike to build family memories
  2. Use quality materials and do it first the first time, since this their “forever home” and they do not intend to move again

For large family gatherings, an outdoor room was top on the list. The louvered pergola from StruXure (click link for pricing) became the helm of the lounging and dining while the comfy fire pit area takes advantage of starry nights views. A white wooden pergola designed by Norman Orr, was added to create a small conversation corner and double as a place for family pictures.

The large side yard is a kids zone with basketball, wall ball, tree swing and kid friendly exercise stations (not shown) for pull ups and playing.

Planning and designs were created for a future kitchen under the louvers pergola for phase 2 construction when the clients are ready to pull the trigger.  

The “before” backyard
New pavers, louvered pergola and outdoor lighting

The Style

The clients opted for a traditional, clean look on the interior which carries out into the landscape.

Calstone, Quarry, Sierra Granite was chosen for its durability on the raised back porch. The pavers were accented with real stone wall veneer on the firepit façade and bluestone caps. These two stones were echoed in the front yard as well for consistency.

The “before” backyard
Now this is a home for entertaining!

The Plants

The clients desire for bright and colorful flowers and foliage were carried through with plants that provide both season and year-round color.


The Budget

Around $200k

The Challenges

The backyard was originally designed for a future tortoise. A low maintenance pet that would hibernate in the winter but allow the kids some responsibility during the remaining year. I grew up with a tortoise myself, so checking for appropriate plants and creating a tortoise enclosure were a welcomed part of the design.

The tortoise however lost out to a new puppy (I know it’s hard to cuddle a hard shell and go for neighborhood walks) so we had to reevaluate the backyard plants for possible dog toxicity. In the end the Nandina were removed to be on the safe side since the berries contain small traces of cyanide that are not safe around curious puppies.

Lesson learned: choose your pet and then your plants. Safety first.