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before and after

Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London

by Annie Werbler

It’s around this time of year when many people in the Northeast start to see their off-season gardening efforts come to life. In England, clients of Katrina Kieffer-Wells hired her firm Earth Designs to turn their North London garden into the calming backyard oasis of their dreams. After finishing a multipurpose basement, the family wanted to extend the style and utility of their interiors outdoors, too. Katrina designed a contemporary garden inspired by Japanese landscapes, with leafy monochromatic forms to mark the influence, in addition to its simple lines and repetitive patterns. She found that the boundary wall and some landscaping had been updated before the project began, making for an excellent starting point for the new plans which she oriented on the diagonal to carve out distinct areas while maintaining easy flow.

At the back of the property, a paved terrace can be set with dining or lounge furniture in the open air. Black Perspex screens artfully hide a utility shed, and will become a backdrop to trees and plants in front as they mature. A stone pathway leads to a raised planter dedicated to children’s vegetable-growing experiments, with the hope of inspiring a future love of horticulture. Terracotta human statues provide a strong vertical counterpart to other tall manmade and natural elements in the space. Farther down the path, a timber pergola provides a spot for casual al fresco dining, and is fitted with a mesh roof specially designed to prevent fallen mulberries from the neighbor’s yard from staining the terrace. Geometric shelving partially encloses the room and references Japanese motifs. The view from indoors looks out onto elegant planter lights for nighttime activities, while paved patterns of rectilinear travertine, granite, and sandstone walkways contrast illuminated spheres throughout the garden. The design also features two young Specimen acers and a waterblade feature with a sunken, covered pool. Summer in the city doesn’t get better than this. —Annie

Photography by Marcus Harpur

Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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A bird's-eye view of a contemporary garden inspired by Japanese landscapes, with leafy monochromatic forms marking the influence, in addition to the simple lines and repetitive patterns.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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The boundary wall and some landscaping had been updated before the project began, making for an excellent starting point for the Japanese garden design.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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At the back of the property, a paved terrace can be set with dining or lounge furniture in the open air. Black Perspex screens hide the utility shed. The screens will become a backdrop to trees and plants as they mature in front of them.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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Continuing down the pathway, the children of the family will have a chance to experiment with growing their own vegetables in a raised planter.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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The strong vertical orientation of the clients' existing terracotta statues mirrors other design elements in the garden.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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In front of the statues, a planting bed with a Specimen acer tree frames the dramatic view.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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On closer inspection, an organic, worn texture characterizes the centerpiece tall statues.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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Farther down the path sits a timber pergola for al fresco dining, with a mesh roof specially designed to prevent fallen mulberries from the neighbor's yard from staining the terrace. Geometric shelving partially encloses the room and references Japanese motifs.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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The view from indoors looks out onto elegant planter lights for nighttime activities.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
10/12
Paved patterns of rectilinear travertine, granite, and sandstone walkways contrast illuminated spheres throughout the garden.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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Another Specimen acer is accompanied by a waterblade feature with a sunken, covered pool.
Before & After: A Modern Japanese Garden in North London, on Design*Sponge
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The garden plan is oriented diagonally on the lot.

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