Mark’s thoughts…. “I knew when we purchased the house that work was necessary to ensure there was effective water divergence and that we were looking for innovative designs. I was disappointed by most of the proposals; they were flat, plain, and just lacked pizzazz…except the ideas proposed by Oldetowne. Their design coordinated hardscape and a water feature that melded into the mountainous terrain and created an outside living area that we use daily; hosting family get-to-gathers, neighborhood parties, or just our daily evenings outside enjoying the cool air falling downward from the mountains. These kind of projects most always require flexibility between the owner and the builder and I have not worked with a better builder – Jared, Brad, and team bent over backwards to ensure that the finished product was of the highest quality. I could not be happier.”
Deb’s thoughts…. “I found myself involved daily with the project as Jared and Brad with their crew took on our backyard water feature and challenging drainage project. They nearly became family, as we worked through challenges and compromised on ways to bring the project to fruition. Every day of the year, Mark and I enjoy ourselves in the space that Oldetowne created. So many fun memories have been made with family, friends, and neighbors (and we throw all the parties!). I cannot imagine how we could enjoy a backyard as much as this one! One of my most cherished aspect of the water feature has been watching our grandchildren spend hours catching tadpoles to show everyone, then returning them to their safe home in the pond. It has brought immeasurable joy to be part of nature and this landscape has made a dream come true.”
There are few places more beautiful than the mountain environment where Maryland meets Virginia meets West Virginia. This is where Deb and Mark call home, along with a billion gnats. The butterflies that emerged while we were breaking ground to take advantage of the exposed mineral deposits were something we will never forget. The colors and motion of an enchanted forest were breathtaking.
When Deb and Mark contacted Oldetowne their goals were far different than our vision. The steep environment of living on the side of a mountain can be challenging to say the least and the problem at hand was water, lots of water. The sheet drainage off the mountain was interrupted only by their home, and compounded by natural springs one can see why their fear of water damage consumed them. We choose to fight water with water. Water is powerful and can be an element of destruction but it is predictable. Somewhere along this journey to solve boring drainage issues a beautiful, interactive, and peaceful garden emerged.
With any project we are commissioned to design we start with the movement of people. Quickly we noticed that this property had an issue that a lot of homes have; the front door isn’t the main door. Our challenge was developing a welcoming and clear entrance to the home. Our solution was to enhance and elaborate on the more frequently used and clearest path. A brick walk guides you past a charming potting shed and Williamsburg inspired vegetable garden as it passes through two stone entrance ruin piers. Integrated into the piers are sconces with a warm glow to light your way. Through this portal you are met by a small foyer space with a wooden bench. This space looks and feeling as if it was part of an existing structure with its ruin walls and large stone pavement. The simple bench invites you to slow down and sit but the sound of water keeps you traveling on the now stone path. This winding path takes you past the vegetable garden’s cedar entrance gate and towards the main terrace. To the left you are welcomed into their home and to the right you are welcomed to where they live. The terrace is a natural flagstone open-space with no clear edge or boundary. These stones seem to disappear into their surroundings. The large steep hill up the mountain is held back by a 10’ tall boulder retaining wall painted with plant material and decorated with the glitter of moving water. At the tallest point of the wall a single fall gracefully separates from the main series of pools and falls that wraps around the stone terrace and terminates into a large koi pond. An interesting formation of stone at the base of the falls acts both as the streams banks as well as a natural out-cropping stone fire pit. Pictures simply cannot capture its beauty.
It is hard to imagine a more comfortable and relaxing space. The sound of water, the sights of nature, and the warmth of fire create a truly welcoming entrance to the home. In Mark and Deb’s instance however, more often than not, they choose to Live Outside.