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The Home Front

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WaterShapes LogotypeEric Herman

In a sense, the way we “dress” our homes’ exteriors is not all that different from the way we dress ourselves: Both are expressions of personal pride, and the aesthetic choices we make speak volumes about who we are. Some of us prefer flash and ostentation while others take subtle approaches – and the possible permutations of styles in between are literally endless.

The more care we take in choosing wisely, the more accurately the clothing can be seen to represent our personalities – on our bodies or with our homes.

In the past few weeks, I’ve come to notice that when it comes to the presentations we make with our homes, there’s no better place than our front yards to make defining visual statements. That’s why I see it as somewhat ironic that so few watershapes make their way out front – especially with more modest homes, where I almost never see water used to any significant extent. For the most part, watershapes in these suburban neighborhoods are strictly a backyard affair.

If you stop and think about it, however, front yards represent a tremendous opportunity for watershapers to do something special for their clients – and a great means of expanding your relationships with individual clients.

Indeed, with lot sizes in new developments shrinking and the rampant visual monotony that characterizes so many stretches of suburbia, a properly scaled watershape can offer the perfect way to individualize and personalize the appearance of a home and provide an intriguing and exciting transitional space between enclosed, private spaces and the outside world.

To be sure, front yard watershapes are comparatively rare, so there’s not much creative precedent to examine and mine for ideas. Fortunately, however, we’ve come across two beautiful projects to cover in this issue:

[ ] Inside (click here), you’ll find “Progressive Surprise” by David Tisherman and Kevin Fleming, in which they lead us on a tour of the subtle yet daring renovation project David described in his “Details” column in our December issue. It’s a case where we see the complete transformation of an ordinary front yard to a special space with a sonorous watershape, extensive rockwork, great landscaping and a beautiful pair of sculptures.

[ ] Also, there’s “Suburban Spaces” by Los Angeles architect Mehrnoosh (click here). This one is about the complete metamorphosis of a nondescript suburban front yard in a middle-class neighborhood into a water-centered statement about the value of outdoor living spaces as buffers between our private worlds and society at large. Relying on wonderful contemporary sensibilities, she uses sheets of water, a small pond, a beautiful wooden fence and tasteful hardscape to create a transitional outdoor room for a lucky set of clients.

Neither of these projects is monumental in scope, but to me they are both emblematic of how water and basic landscape elements can be used to redefine the potential of huge numbers of front yards. Just seeing these projects makes me think about my own home and others I know well and how they might benefit from a bit of creative input from a good watershaper. Moreover, instead of being hidden in the backyard, these watershapes are in plain view to inspire passersby, friends and neighbors on a daily basis.

Sounds like opportunity knocking to me – and a great way to extend owners’ pride in their homes.

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