Scott Daigre design: Vintage looks for a new garden
When Matt Knight and Bill O’Brien renovated their Los Feliz house, they took pains not only to preserve the 1927 architecture, but also to lend vintage ambience to a newly designed landscape. The couple envisioned extending period features inside the house, such as the stair railing of elegant wrought iron and the risers decorated with colorful glazed ceramic tiles, to the outdoors so the remade garden looked like it belonged.
“It’s a Spanish Colonial Revival home, and we wanted to reflect that on some level,” said O’Brien, vice president of sales for a promotional product manufacturer. He and Knight, a fiction writer, love to entertain, so they also hoped to create a series of conversation and dining areas within a drought-tolerant Mediterranean oasis.
To remake the sloped hillside lot, Knight and O’Brien hired Scott Daigre, owner of Powerplant Garden Design in Ojai and Los Angeles.
“The best gift a designer can have is a great house,” said Daigre, who also produces the traveling Tomatomania events. “The guys had done an amazing remodel. We just updated the garden to match.”
Daigre’s first move was to widen the aging entry staircase and pave it with new flagstone. He carved a broad landing where visitors can sit beneath an old magnolia and take in the olive trees, lavender, rosemary, agaves, aloes and echeverias that soften the retaining walls.
“My favorite spot is the olive grove in the upper rear garden,” O’Brien said. “I like to sit on the fireplace hearth and look back toward the dining pergola. I lived in Europe for a while, and the olives remind me of that.”
O’Brien has taken a new job in Northern California, so he and Knight recently sold their Mediterranean paradise. “It’s a little hard to leave after all the love and energy we put into it,” Knight said. “But we’ve handed it off to someone else who can enjoy it as much as we have.”
-- Emily Young
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Photos: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times