Gardens Illustrated Feature

BIG SKIES High on a hillside on the rugged Californian coast, designer Bernard Trainor harnesses sweeping views to create a stunning space for lovers of the great outdoors. High up on a ridge, along the rugged stretch of coastal California known as Big Sur, an intriguing, glass-fronted house perches over a singular, south-facing garden. This unique position affords an eye-popping panorama, taking in everything from the Santa Lucia Mountains in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west. Seeing these changes of terrain in one view is like “having two pages of a book open at the same time,” […]

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Dwell Magazine Feature

FORCE OF NATURE The flora comes first at a leafy enclave just minutes from downtown Palo Alto. Recently retired and ready to downsize, Paul and Melonie Brophy found a lot in Palo Alto that gave them the chance to start fresh. Their glass, concrete, and wood house, designed by Feldman Architecture, seems to float above a landscape by Bernard Trainor. Of the board-formed concrete wall, architect Taisuke Ikegami says, “It connects the building to the ground place while allowing the house to be a landscape element.” The house was a “fall-down,” the lot long neglected. But as soon as Paul […]

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Gardens Illustrated Feature

HOME FRONT In his private garden in California, designer Bernard Trainor explores new plants and possibilities. Though he has now settled in the USA, and comes originally from Australia, landscape designer. Bernard Trainor began to develop his core ideas about plants and place in Britain. As a young horticultural apprentice, he came to the UK to work with the late, great Beth Chatto, and his experience in her Essex garden was life changing. “I’d thought about planting for climate before, but working with Beth cemented those ideas,” he says. “She was also just the best person, with incredible values and […]

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Retrospect feature

Prairie House One of the guiding principles of California modernist architecture is that the built and natural landscapes relate. When Bernard Trainor, one of the Bay Area’s leading landscape designers, visited a 20-acre Sonoma County vineyard, he saw terrain that could be brought into perfect dialogue with the property’s new private home. The sleek, sculptural residence, designed by San Francisco’s Swatt I Miers Architects, was perched high upon a knoll, surrounded by majestic blue oaks and pinot noir vineyards. Trainor and his firm created a dynamic landscape in which hardscaping and softscaping intersect, artfully framing the modernist structure. Here, stone […]

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Salamander House feature

Between the Lines Positioned on the San Andreas Fault just east of Monterey Bay is a 500-acre walnut tree ranch distinguished by dramatic forested hills, a bubbling creek and a smattering of old distressed barns and small cabins originally built for the ranch hands. Also nestled into that landscape is a more recent addition designed by architect Jonathon Feldman–a spacious modern home constructed of rammed earth, steel and concrete. “Our clients were excited about having a property that was both a family retreat and a working ranch,” Feldman says, noting that the owners grow organic walnuts, olives and grapes along […]

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Halls Ridge feature

Natural High High above Carmel Valley beside rugged Halls Ridge, a Southern California family has created a rustic retreat in the embrace of ancient California live oaks and madrones. Anchored by massive sheltering bluestone walls, the superbly delineated residence- which has won several architectural design awards- opens to a shimmering pool to reveal miles of undulating hills in this remote and pristine terroir. Crafted in the cedar and reclaimed barnwood, this mountain escape is a modernist update of the California farm building vernacular, designed as a frame for the landscape. The Santa Lucia Preserve where it’s located (Big Sur is […]

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Rancho San Carlos landscape

Natural Response In Carmel’s Santa Lucia Preserve, a modern structure offers a welcoming respite for its Texas family with clean lines, open spaces and a host of warm materials that speak to its site. There is a huge community of Texans who have settled in Carmel because of the weather,” observes interior designer Kristin Rowell. It was a Texas couple with three children, in fact, who asked Rowell to appoint the interiors of the vacation home they were building in the Santa Lucia Preserve, an exclusive golf and equestrian community with homes on 2,000 acres of an otherwise undeveloped 20,000-acre […]

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Gentry Home Feature

Simplicity Of Line Award-winning architects Swatt | Miers conjure a private Silicon Valley residence that embodies effortless elegance. They have done it again. The team from Swatt | Miers has been on a veritable roll for the past 20 years crafting homes and commercial buildings that express a crisp, contemporary point of view that places the utmost value on beauty, sustainability, and user responsiveness. The wonderful private home on these pages is a prime example of what this firm does so well. Notes Bob Swatt, “Our clients discovered this property in Atherton with marvelous mature trees and brought us in […]

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Tehama, Quince and SF Botanical Garden feature

On a sunny, windy spring day, with the California hills already brown after a nearly rainless winter, Bernard Trainor, ASLA, leads the way up a winding driveway to a ridgetop house with no other houses in sight. He points out what the cut for the drive has exposed—virtually no topsoil, just a thin filling of tan, sandy soil coating rocks packed as densely as the nuts in a Baby Ruth candy bar. “The soil is so poor and the weather so extreme that this is what you get,” he says, indicating a “pygmy forest” of stunted, windblown oaks. This is […]

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