San Jose Project: An Interview with Matt Daly
We love it when our products help unleash the creativity in designers and homeowners. So, you can imagine our delight when we saw the fantastic outdoor space dreamed up by the gifted Matt Daly, founder of California’s Water & Earth Landscape Design. Matt took a barren plot of land and, with the help of TimberTech, transformed it into a spectacular outdoor living space. One look at these pictures and we wanted to know more. Read on for valuable insights into his landscaping design process, his secret for client happiness, and the surprising source of his inspiration for this sublimely original outdoor room.
Design Philosophy: Function First
As a landscape designer, Matt is greatly influenced by American modernist architect Louis Sullivan’s famous maxim, “Form ever follows function”. This guiding principle means that in creating a space—whether indoor or out—the first consideration must always be how the space will be used, and then fashioning a design that best accommodates that use, to facilitate the lifestyle of its inhabitants.
“People are worried about aesthetics,” he says. “But the goal of your design isn’t to make something that’s pretty; the goal of the design is to make something that’s usable. And if you do that well, then pretty takes care of itself.” The fruits of this approach are on full display in Matt’s wonderful work.
Initially, Matt considered using redwood or Ipe wood but either one would have proven problematic for this project. “I wanted something that would last a long time,” he says. “Wood is great for structural solutions, but it’s horrible for aesthetics.”
PRODUCTS INCLUDED IN THE PROJECT
While Ipe is a hardwood considered by many to be a desirable decking material, it’s also extremely expensive, and difficult and costly to install as it requires pre-drilling for fasteners. It also needs to be carefully dried and gradually acclimated to its new environment—sometimes for months in advance—before being installed to reduce the incidence of splitting and cracking.
Redwood, in turn, is also expensive—three times more expensive than pressure-treated wood—but as a softwood, it is far more vulnerable to deterioration than Ipe, and no amount of regular messy sealing would alter that fact. And while Ipe holds its color longer than redwood, both were guaranteed to eventually fade to a drab, uniform gray given enough time under the merciless California sun.
Finally, Matt concluded that the only sure way to create a beautiful, varied deck that would retain its color and individuality over time was to go with a composite material. After reviewing composite options with his carpenter, they quickly settled on TimberTech.
“The colors are a lot more vibrant than the competition,” he raves. “When we put them next to each other, TimberTech won.”
2018 TimberTech product catalog,” he says. After playing with various color combinations, he and his client settled on a trio of complementary colors for the new deck: TimberTech Mocha, Tigerwood, and Pecan. It was a true eureka moment for both designer and client.
“We were all speechless,” Matt marvels, “The three colors really added interest to the space. It’s arguably the most vibrant part of the project.”
In combining the contrasting earth tones of the three different TimberTech boards, Matt added another layer of texture to the deck areas in much the same way that he took advantage of the natural green, blue, and brown color variations in the bluestone pavers. The cumulative result is a subtly heightened level of tonal variety that permeates the entire landscape design.
The Magic of Connection
For Matt, establishing a close relationship with his clients, and working with them to explore the possibilities, is everything. In his experience, it’s not only more fulfilling for everyone involved, it always leads to a better result, and that was absolutely the case on this project. “
We did a lot of things that wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t collaborated and inspired each other.” Matt gets so impassioned about the work that he admits to giving in to the temptation of late-night emails and phone calls with his clients when inspiration strikes. “I love my job,” he laughs, “so I don’t mind.”
Pushing the Boundaries
While Matt eagerly exploited the possibilities offered by the material, it’s fair to say that he also pushed the boundaries of their use in new directions as the project evolved, the fireplace being one stellar example. “I wanted the fireplace to feel integrated,” he recalls. “So I thought, ‘Why not use the TimberTech boards?’” Matt went even further, installing subtle lighting features under the boards that lend the space a gentle glow at night.
The ribbon of decking that runs down the middle between the fireplace and the dining area is another eye-catching wrinkle. Matt cleverly conceived it not merely as a design feature that connects the two islands of repose, but also as a way to discreetly integrate a hidden drain to prevent water from pooling no matter what the weather brings. “It’s a cool detail that’s functional,” he notes.
Once again, function is served, and pretty takes care of itself. Louis Sullivan would be proud.
Find Your Own Inspiration
If Matt can find the inspiration for this wonderful landscape design in the pages of our TimberTech catalog, what great ideas might you find waiting for you there? Get a copy of the TimberTech catalog or order some samples for free, and find out.
All photos courtesy of Matt Daly.
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