Project Profile by Designer John Chmiel
Mediterranean Marvel with a Midwestern Twist
I met the clients initially to provide landscape planting around a pool renovation as a subcontractor for 2 Brothers Brick Paving. What started as a simple planting turned into a total tear-out and renovation for the historic Smith House in Oakwood.
I have always had a passion for period and historic properties and have worked on several prominent landscape renovations and restorations in Detroit and its suburbs, as well as the Dayton area. This Mediterranean 1920’s mansion was a rare find and a dream come true. The homeowners were looking for planting suggestions for their house addition and a 1930’s pool that was going to be renovated. As our interview progressed, the clients divulged they were looking to add garden paths, additional outdoor living space as well as a simple grill/kitchen area as well as a firepit. They had recently purchased the house and wanted to not only restore the house and grounds to their former glory, but also bring it into the 21st century and make it their own.
When I came back with the conceptual plan, which turned out to be the first of three phases, the clients fell in love with the design. It connected the pool terrace level in a grand fashion to a mid-range patio with the firepit accessing the new addition, and up to the outdoor grilling and dining area. The client wanted year-round interest, which was provided through the use of boxwood, viburnum, azalea, coral bell, roses, lirope, hosta, lysmachia and perennial geraniums. We also added new stone terraces, a water feature in the pool and hedges to define the pool area and create privacy from the neighbors. As the project progressed, I was asked to design and restore a lower terrace and woodland garden that had long been lost to time. We cleared out much of the old overgrown honey suckle and growth to reveal a grotto with a waterfall that we enhanced. After we moved to the second phase of renovations and enhancements the clients wanted to totally modify the front peripheral and entrance landscape to harken to the Mediterranean heritage the house and grounds originated. We introduced vertical elements to resemble Cypress by adding roses, lavender and serpentine hedges. The result was, in the words of our client, “Everything we could have wanted and more. You hit it out of the ballpark!”
The client added irrigation and lighting services through other vendors, which has helped the new legacy thrive and glow with an amazing aura fitting of this beautiful estate