The modern and minimalist architecture of the home is forward-thinking as much in its aesthetic as its function.

It features a green roof, solar panels, gray-water irrigation and environmentally friendly materials throughout, such as eco-timber bamboo flooring.

Michael Schneider, designer and company principal, took a contemporary approach to the traditional koi pond and garden, resulting in a peaceful sanctuary in the heart of bustling Southern California.

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Rather than the organic, free-form look of a traditional koi water garden, Schneider wanted the shape to serve as an extension of the giant Fleetwood doors of the living room, which opens up to the backyard. He wrapped a pond around the corner of the house for dramatic effect.

“We are always looking for ways to take the materials on the house, such as a color or a texture, so there is some kind of dialogue between the inside and out,” Schneider says.

To reflect the interior flooring, he chose a gray concrete for the waterfeature and bluestone for the stone path. Stainless steel was used for the spillway to reflect the silver frame on the sliding doors.

But the homeowners actually wanted two waterfeatures: one by the living room and one next to the kitchen. So Schneider not only used the same materials for each, he also linked the systems together.

Through pool hydraulics and plumbing, the water is filtered and circulates from pond to pond. The steel spillway on the kitchen pond mixes water with air and recharges the system with fresh, oxygenated water.

The sound of the spillway, with its 15-inch free fall, adds a musical quality to the environment. Meanwhile, water tumbling from a stone column in the koi pond creates a subtler sound.

“We like the fact that the sense of the garden is different in many places,” Schneider says. The koi pond actually draws attention out of the living room; the sound of the spillway lures you from the kitchen. As a result, the whole property feels like a series of distinct, but well-coordinated, rooms.

Many shapes

To add contrast and break from the architecture’s linear design, Schneider placed statues and used organic shapes in the backyard.

Instead of positioning the bluestone path in an exact line, he purposely arranged it so the steps appear to meander.

Previously, the yard was uneven and had an old silk floss tree on higher ground. Instead of uprooting the tree or creating an unwieldy large planter for it, Schneider retained the elevation to make the new garden more dynamic, using two different ground covers: dymondia and mondo grass.

Michael Schneider