THE CANVAS: Thick forest, winding wooded paths, a classic-styled home

THE PALETTE: Bluestone pavers, lush flowers and grasses, bright-orange fish

THE MASTERPIECE: A mix of contemporary and traditional, a romantic atmosphere, playful features

The client for this project loves to entertain on a grand scale, even hosting the occasional wedding party. She wanted a backyard design to complement the modern, sophisticated architecture of her Brewster, N.Y., home.

“[The homeowner] has a bit of whimsy in her,” says Keith Davitt, owner of Gardens of Keith Davitt. For this aquascape, he decided to reference the straight lines and cool tones of the client’s house.

He also created a “floating step,” and used serene, romantic elements to design a runnel and koi garden.

Close to home

Davitt’s concept involved three patios connected by runnels. His goal was to bring contrast and interest to the space, allowing it to be enjoyed from all angles.

For the decking, he selected native bluestone pavers that reflect the flooring in the home’s atrium and front courtyard. The designer wanted cool tones, so he drew from a palette of tan, gray and blue.

To create visual interest, a triangular piece of bluestone serves as a bridge leading to a larger floating deck. “It fit well with the design,” Davitt says. “A four-sided shape would have been too clunky.”

To construct this floating step, the bluestone was propped on top of a darkly plastered concrete base.

The unbroken runnels of water let bright-orange koi swim freely through the channels. The fish almost serve as design elements themselves, adding contrast to the plants and dark-gray interior plaster.

Romancing the stone

The geometric waterway is tempered by lush softscape. In contrast to the dense woodlands behind the patio, Davitt planted hydrangeas, spiky irises and grasses. Their vertical silhouettes add dimension to the horizontal runnels.

As with the hardscape, the plant colors stayed cool with bluish and burgundy leaves, and white flowers.

“I avoided hot colors in the flowers,” Davitt says. “I only had a little bit of yellow for warmth. I wanted a romantic, graceful quality, [not something that was] too blaring.”

To put the finishing touches on this sanctuary, he included two Japanese maples. The result is an ideal place for a party, as well as quieter moments. Even the koi seem to enjoy living there — hundreds swim in the dark water.

“This garden is meant to be fun,” Davitt explains.