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Home & Garden Design Trends


Home & Garden Design Trends

Take some advice from the birds: Spring is the perfect time to freshen up your nest. No need to start from scratch, though. A few simple tweaks will do wonders for your corner of the world, from on-trend accessories to plants that multi-task. Or maybe this season you’ll go for a bigger project that enhances your view along with your property value. For inspiration, we asked some of San Diego’s leading experts to share what’s trending in home and garden design. Whether your personal style is classic or cutting-edge or somewhere in between, you’re sure to find something that strikes your fancy.



Maria Barry, Le Dimora

(858.759.2709, www.ledimora.com)

•  “Contemporary, clean lines are back, even in Rancho Santa Fe,” says Barry. “With Old World style homes, you can still blend in contemporary furnishings and accessories. My specialty is area rugs, which can add color and pattern to neutral pieces. They’re not as expensive as they used to be. You can buy a colorful new manmade rug that’s not too costly, so if you tire of it in a few years, it’s not a big deal. Throw pillows are great too. Geometric patters are very in right now.”

•  “Pantone’s latest color of the year is Marsala — a rich burgundy tone. But you probably won’t see it paired with other traditional jewel tones like green and gold. We might mix it with seal gray and lavender, or even with a pretty blue, to make it more contemporary.”

•  Also trending? “Acrylic furniture, like tables with glass and a Lucite base. It works really well with transitional styles.”

Le Dimora
Le Dimora

James Denton, James Denton Design

(858.729.4123, www.jamesdentondesign.com)

•  “Brass is back,” says Denton. “Rather than the shiny brass of the ’80s, we’re seeing more matte and antique finishes. Instead of going over the top, designers are using finishes like brass very sparingly, so they stand out as being special.”

•  Make the most of natural lighting. “Interior designers are becoming more and more aware of how shade and shadow and light affect interiors,” explains Denton. “Before we’d think of natural light as an external element, now it’s being used to create depth and diversity.” Case in point? The white-on-white look he created for a client’s second home in La Jolla that feels ultra-modern and cool but not the least bit cold.

James Denton Design
James Denton Design


Susan Spath, Kern & Co.

(858.259.7722, www.kerncodesigns.com)

• Upgrade a forgettable seating area with something more stylish. “The sofa has become a statement piece with unusual characteristics,” says Spath. “A classic design incorporating an unexpected back or arm detail can be the start of a fabulous room. No longer is the couch just a box with cushions — it’s also a feast for the eyes!”

• Look beyond standard surfaces. “Beautiful natural raffia textures are being wrapped around furnishings. Shagreen, a faux stingray skin, is also being used for coffee tables and accessories. Adding other tactile surfaces to a room is a great way to accessorize in a more calming manner.”

Kern & Co.
Kern & Co.


John Lieberman, Bella Castilla

(858.794.9003, jliebermansales@aol.com)

•  “A top tip and trend for the year is the use of animal prints and hides, coupled with bold, contrasting color,” says Lieberman. “It’s exotic and sexy. As we’ve showcased in this remodel in Rancho Santa Fe, we’ve converted an ordinary one-story office space into a soaring two-story library with the use of rich, bold color coupled with a splash of tangerine and grounded with classic rich leather chairs — all while still keeping it young and fresh.”

Bella Castilla
Bella Castilla


Tim Smith, Wynn-Smith Landscape Architecture, Inc.

(858.513.0030, www.wynn-smith.com)

•  “People are becoming much more conscious of the environment and how they are affecting it,” says Smith, the new president of the San Diego chapter of ASLA. “There’s a misunderstanding that sustainability will cost more, which isn’t always the case. We show people how to get what they want in a greener way, and that includes our equestrian-related work. We look at ways to take advantage of roof runoff and collection so it goes back into the earth rather than the street and ocean. Plants are a fantastic way to clean water.”

•  As for using water wisely? “You can group plants into hydro-zones based on how much water they need and how often. You can’t put plants with vastly different needs on the same irrigation system. That’s a mistake I see fairly often. The owners wonder why they can’t keep some of their plants alive while others are thriving.”

•  Consider bringing on a landscape architect from the start on new builds. “If homeowners can hire an architect and landscape architect at the same time, as a team they can solve a lot of problems early on. By the time I’m often brought in, I see missed opportunities and it’s too late to point out the lost potential.”

Wynn-Smith Landscape Architecture, Inc.
Wynn-Smith Landscape Architecture, Inc.


Ryan Prange, Falling Waters Landscape

(760.942.2528, www.fallingwaterslandscape.com)

•  “We love to combine drought-resistant muhlenbergia mixed with architectural agave, aloe and euphorbias,” says Prange. “We are also using transition grasses along lawn edges. This helps make the lawn area smaller, reducing water use. Where overspray occurs, we use more drought-tolerant transition grasses such as Festuca superba, leymus, and muhlenbergia to absorb any extra available moisture. Tech gadgets are also gaining in popularity, such as smart controllers and weather stations that actively monitor water use and help conserve this vital resource.”

•  Get creative with outdoor lighting. “It’s important for way-finding, background lighting, and architectural lighting and mood. We’ve been seeing custom lighting combinations that utilize different materials for the risers on path lights, clever shrouds on wall and step lights, and hanging tea lights in canopies of trees to provide unexpected details throughout the landscape.”

•  And don’t forget fire. “We are currently designing and building fire pits that float above the surrounding plane as well as casting fire pits monolithically with walls where space is limited.”

Falling Waters Landscape
Falling Waters Landscape


Jason Jarvis, Terra Bella Landscape Development

(858.335.8151, www.tblandscaping.com)

•  “Clients are gravitating to clean, simple lines, right angles, and modern styles,” says Jarvis. “Even those with Mediterranean homes. Like rectangular pools and glass tiles. People are moving away from flagstone and irregular stone toward linear stone like 12”x20” rectangles. I have three or four jobs in the million-dollar range that are remodels of Old World homes, adding modern stone and pools. People want to have less clutter and cleaner lines, but well thought-out plans.”

•  “We’re in Rancho Santa Fe, so succulents are all the rage right now. More unexpectedly, ferns and bromeliads are becoming popular for shady areas, especially on the north side of homes. Though typically associated with houseplants, there are a number of outdoor varieties that go really well with Mediterranean looks. They require a bit more water, but provide beauty and texture that a lot of plants lack.”   ANNAMARIA STEPHENS

Terra Bella Landscape Development
Terra Bella Landscape Development


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