BY DANÉE MARIE LAMBOURNE & ELISE RALSTON
Contemporary design is a notion that’s open to many interpretations.
Unlike most approaches, contemporary design is one that does not belong to a specific time period or era. Rather, it is constantly changing and evolving to reflect the themes and spirit of present day design. Because of its ever-changing qualities, it can be difficult for homeowners to decide on how to design their homes and landscapes to last for years to come while still remaining relevant to the day’s trends.
In this article we’re providing some guidelines to consider when creating your timeless and contemporary garden; whether you’re looking to completely transform your outdoor space or integrate a few new design elements.
Before diving into plant palettes and Pinterest boards, it’s important to determine what it is you want from your garden. Ask yourself questions like ‘how do I want to enjoy the space? What lifestyle do I see myself returning to time and time again?’ Maybe you’re dying for a warm space in the gardens to entertain guests. Perhaps you’ve decided that a simple kitchen garden for everyday greens, root vegetables and herbs would bring you great joy without major commitment; but how to do it wisely and keep it clean?
Getting clear on your intent for the space and considering how you want it to “feel” ensures that you’ve included your priorities when investing in an outdoor oasis tailored to not only the elements but the lifestyle you desire.
Less is More
Although the contemporary garden is one that is ever changing, one element that remains constant is simplicity. It’s easy for gardens to become unruly and for design features to overwhelm a space. By making thoughtful considerations like the curation of colour, continuous lines, density and use of space, the flow and transition in the space will lend itself to a relaxed, homey feel while embodying contemporary style and form.
For design layouts and garden beds, stick to clean, simple lines, such as straight angles, uniformed curves or subtle contours. A defined colour scheme, and building planting vignettes that are uniform and low maintenance, will help to establish a naturalized environment and and the contemporary look you’re after.
Stick to the Classics
It’s easy to get caught up in design ideas that are new and of the moment; innovation is the buzzword of the 21st century is it not? While your space may feel contemporary now, following too many design trends will quickly make your garden feel dated or out of style.
To ensure a timeless space, consider choosing elements and features that are classic and will last for years to come. Consider the “Revival” approach, opting for wood or a neutral paver, strategically placing plants to offer a uniform look while maintaining a natural feel and softness, and subtly integrating colour to ensure a classic look and feel. Building an English garden? Add a traditional wooden pergola out of aluminum, remove the finials, and use concrete instead of brick and rectilinear basins instead of concave bowls.
Make your mark
Although hardscape materials, plantings and design layout are foundational elements for a space, a design is not complete without the finishing touches that say “we live here. This is who we are and this is the luxury we chose to surround ourselves with. This is OURS.”
It can be a challenge to add personality without disrupting the contemporary aesthetic. Thoughtful ways to make a space your own require thoughtful yet subtle, personal touches. Instead of buying those brightly coloured cushions, you can integrate colour with plants through foliage and seasonal blooms.
To enhance liveliness in your space, you can introduce fish in your water feature or plant pollinators to attract native species, catch the wind with grasses and plant scented varieties near your seating areas.
By thinking beyond popular fads and introducing playful features, you can enhance your environment and build your very own Eden. One that is timeless; continuing to give back without asking too much in return.
Danée Marie Lambourne is the Founder and Creative Director, while Elise Ralston is a Junior Associate, at EDEN Projects, a landscape design, build and renovation firm operating out of the Greater Victoria area, designing gardens across Vancouver Island.