Zen and Zest Collide on this Florida PropertyA home’s outdoor spaces get a lush, tropical makeover
According to Lewis Aqüi, President of Lewis Aqüi Landscape + Architectural Design, LLC., the outdoor areas of this property in Coral Gables, Florida were once tired and dull. “The homeowners wanted to give the small lawn and courtyard a facelift that would suit their young and fun personalities,” he says. An existing splash pool and privacy walls were incorporated into the new design. “Our design vision was to create a chic and contemporary, yet tropical and lush series of outdoor rooms that the owners could enjoy all times of the year with their children and friends,” continues Aqüi.
In order to respect the clients’ budget goal, the splash pool inside the courtyard was renovated and restored rather than replaced. Turkish Travertine was used for the coping, while a border of black Mexican river rocks creates a textural border. The steps were reconfigured and the interior refinished with Diamondbrite. New glass mosaic tiles add a pop of color to the waterline.
Photography by Lewis E. Aqüi
Behind the pool, a living backdrop was created. “For more privacy, we increased the height of the existing concrete and stucco wall by a few feet with the addition of a custom aluminum trellis,” explains Aqüi. This approach was used as a way of circumventing the limit on wall height dictated by the homeowner’s association. Three floating shelves were affixed to the wall as a place to display colorful potted orchids. “The shelves were built of Ipe, a dense teak wood from South America that is decay and rot resistant, which is important in our humid South Florida environment,” says Deena Bell, Aqüi's former partner who helped with the design.
Climbing fig (‘Ficus repens’), a fast-growing evergreen vine, densely covers the wall and trellis, while Sanseveria ‘black and gold’ grows in clumps at the base. “On this project, plants were chosen for their striking architectural forms and tropical Asian flavor. Color was kept to a minimum to create a ‘Zesty Zen’ feeling using contrasting textures and combinations of soothing greens,” states Aqüi.
According to Aqüi, the seating area near the pool was designed to evoke the feeling that one is lounging in a private bungalow of a tropical boutique resort. Interior designer Alisa Block assisted the homeowners in selecting outdoor furniture for this space. The four lounge chairs are the Trennza Lounge Chair with Arms in Sand from Janus et Cie. The coffee table and daybed are both part of the Bitta Collection from Kettal.
In the backyard, a deck for outdoor dining and a pondless fountain were added. Lewis Aqüi Landscape + Architectural Design, LLC. designed this space with both adults and children in mind. Everything has a sophisticated appearance, but is also kid-friendly and safe. A small lawn beyond the fountain (not pictured) provides space for playing. At night soft lighting illuminates the focal points, paths and interesting plants. A variety of palms, including Coccothrinax, Thrinax and Ivory Cane, as well as Black Bamboo stalks add to the lush tropical atmosphere.
Like the shelves on the wall behind the pool, the deck was constructed of Ipe wood, which Aqüi chose for its density because it prevents it from rotting or splintering. The same wood was also used to construct the shade structure that covers the deck. To get the look one would see on a luxury yacht, the wood can be can be oiled to enhance its dark color,” he says. A custom glass tiled bench circles the perimeter of the deck and provides overflow seating for parties.
The pondless fountain lays just steps beyond the deck, providing the trickling sound of water and an interesting visual. Water overflows from the center of the granite millstone, which was ordered from Stone Forest in New Mexico, and enters a river rock basin that is defined by concrete banding. A recirculating pump is hidden below ground to keep the water flowing. “This fountain is both safe and practical because there is no standing water for the owners’ children to fall into or for mosquitos to breed,” Aqüi points out.
This property is now far from tired and dull. The homeowners and their children have a stylish outdoor space in which they can entertain, relax or play with family and friends.
See the before photos of this project
Learn about travertine pool decks