The Designers

Jeffrey Gordon Smith
Jeffrey Gordon Smith Landscape Architecture
Los Osos, Calif.

What the judges thought: Between the materials and the strong lines, this project catches the eye and provides an interesting but comforting space.

Tight spaces: When Jeffrey Gordon Smith was brought on to this project, he found that he was working with tight lots. “We tried to open as many opportunities as possible,” he says. Smith installed backless benches and used the perimeter as seating to make the space feel more open and large. Mexican Weeping Bamboo was used as a disguise or buffer. It both creates a screen from the neighboring properties and unifies the space. Nestled into the bamboo, the cedar spa offers a place where the client can feel safe and comfortable. “[It’s] this little protected area,” says Smith. “Being in the water is a vulnerable experience.” It took a while to convince the clients to use the cedar hot tub, Smith says, because they felt it was a “hippie spa.” But the design called for more of a soft warmth and something to tie in to the benches, so the wood tub seemed most appropriate.

Down below: An upper roof deck with a black, glass firepit that mirrors the one in the yard was a late addition to the project. Smith saw it as an opportunity to strengthen the view of the space from above. For the concrete flooring, Smith felt a pattern was needed. He stained the flooring with a soy-based stain that is designed to be more environmentally friendly. “We could get a little more variation on colors versus an acid stain,” he says. The colors are exaggerations of the palette used on the home.