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A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida
20,000-Pound Boulder as a Center Piece

A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida

This residence, on the Intercostal Waterway in Largo, Florida, epitomizes Florida living. The design of the main outdoor space (the backyard) is tailored to enjoying the water views and maximizing entertainment. The front entry includes a large column arcade with monumental steps and is punctuated by a 20,000 pound boulder that was flown in from Colorado and acts as a centerpiece. The design also includes tall Date palms to create a sense of arrival with short columns, low walls and large urns containing juniper trees.

A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida

One of the unique mementos of this project is this pelican sculpture that the client had. Hunter Booth, lead landscape architect, stated that this statue was sentimental to the client, so he decided to utilize it in the landscape as an art installment.v

Booth Design Group was the landscape architecture design firm for this project in Largo, Florida and they worked in tandem with an interior designer, an architect, a pool contractor and a general contractor to create this large custom residential estate.

The work of the landscape architects consisted of designing and supervising implementation of everything that is located on the exterior of the house. This included: the driveway, lighting fixtures, drainage, hardscapes, pool decking and more. The only thing that was located on the outside of the house that Booth Design Group did not have free reign over, was the
pool itself.

The client wanted to have a place that he could bring his friends and hold entertainment fiestas of varying scales, from small intimate parties to big lavish balls. The residence needed to be both professional on one hand and leisurely on the other. He specified that the landscape should encompass both indoor and outdoor sites and allow him and his guests to flow between the two settings.

One of the challenges that the firm faced was a noticeable change in elevation, which was unusual for the region, and unusual for the state in general.

A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida

Steps flowing from the back of the house were softened with planter breaks filled with tropical plants. One of the challenges was constructing the transitioning and doing the grading from the home to the water, a 13-foot height difference, which was achieved with terracing. Various seating nooks lend themselves to gathering for families and friends.

A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida

A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida

The pool concept produces a resort-pool feel, and has an infinity edge and a separate lap lane. Tile seats were formed in the pool shell. The infinity edge disappears near a sitting area made from recycled wood with a built in fire pit. The decking and coping consist of 6"x 12" Travertine pavers in a Leonardo coloration by Stone-Mart. Pavers found on the deck were laid in a diagonal pattern, while the coping pavers were filed, honed and set in a soldier course pattern.

"This was an atypical house because it sits up on top of a bluff and there was elevation change throughout," says Hunter Booth, president of the firm and lead landscape architect for the project. "We aren't used to having sites with 13 to 18 feet of grade change from the front of the house to the back."
To solve this dilemma, the backyard was terraced with several different step-downs. The upper terrace contains the patio area with the furniture, which was specified by the interior designer. Then there is the pool terrace, followed by what Booth relates is the "Sunset Terrace" because it looks westward. Finally, the back walkway declines the hill in a couple of terraced steps that go all the way down to a boat dock.

Another difficulty that the design firm encountered was that the garage was originally planned to sit below the house level, a design that is unique to Florida. In order to mitigate flooding, a trench drain was placed at the seam between the garage and the driveway.

One of the main corner pieces of the project is an ancient 50'x 50' oak tree that stands resolute in the backyard. Meticulous care was taken during the design and construction phases to ensure that tree was not damaged and, in the end, served as one of the focal points of the backyard. This tree also allowed a great place for spotlights to be mounted in order to illuminate the backyard and pool area.

The Rock
One of the most unique, if not the most unique, aspects of this residential estate is the eight foot wide, six foot tall, 20,000-pound boulder that was placed in the front of the home.

A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida

Twenty-four BK Lighting wall and step lights were installed thorough out the property. Twenty-six fixtures by FX Lighting, including ground mounted spotlights, tree mounted spotlights and path lights, were also placed in order to provide safety and usability during the nighttime environment.

A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida

Positioned on one of the terraces located in the backyard is this cozy, stained cedar deck, which features a custom fire pit. This type of wood was chosen to match the ceiling of the patio, tying the two places together. The fire pit was placed strategically to increase views of the water.

The client has another house in Colorado, and wanted to bring a little piece of the state back with him to his new Florida residence.
Booth and his design firm worked closely with the client and established a designated plot in the front of the house that would receive the massive boulder. The client sent several pictures of different possible rocks and once the final decision was made, the boulder was loaded onto a truck and transported from Colorado to Florida.

Once the rock arrived in Florida, a large skid steer was employed to inch it carefully into place. The ground and the nearby retaining wall had to be methodically stabilized in order to ensure that there was proper support for the gargantuan rock.

Lighting, Privacy and Irrigation
"Whenever we light a project, it is our goal to see the lighting effect and not the lighting fixture," relates Booth. "So we used the landscape of the palms along the front to augment the house lighting. In the back we used the existing oak tree, and we went up into the canopy about thirty feet. There we hid lights behind branches to light down on the pool area."

One of the main ideologies that Booth employed during this phase of the project was a clear intent on limiting glare produced by the lights. He states that his firm attempts to light certain features, like stairs, from the sides rather than straight on.

A Little Piece of Colorado in Florida

"The idea behind lighting for safety is to have different intensities of light, focused where you want them and not directly in the user's face."
Because this estate was flanked on either side by houses, tall privacy hedges were planted to obstruct views, on the ground level, into the neighboring homes. A second layer of palm trees was also planted behind the shrubs to conceal the second floor of the home as well.

"The palm trees buffer the upper-story views and the hedges give you privacy while your sitting on the pool deck. So, it's sort of a two-story privacy buffer."

For the irrigation found around the property, Booth used all Hunter appliances. The turf is watered with MP Rotator sprinkler heads, while the plant beds feature a PLD drip line irrigation system. Interestingly, the irrigation controller is powered by a solar panel.

Team List:
Oliveri Architects
Bollenback Builders, Inc.
Studio M Interior Design

As seen in LASN magazine, November 2018.

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June 16, 2019, 10:32 pm PDT

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