Our clients, a couple, met as bio-engineering students at college. Both from India, they formed a close friendship, which blossomed into the wonderful family they have today The Sanctuary project is a dream of theirs to have a beautiful outdoor space to share with their two teenage children here in Ann Arbor Michigan.
A close-knit family, they all enjoy spending time together. From relaxing in the backyard to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, they are always seeking fresh ways to get outside, and have been dreaming of transforming their large, yet unfinished backyard space for many years. With successful careers in the engineering industry and two children to keep them busy, the couple has always struggled to find the time to do this.
With the kids getting older, the family wanted to create a more adult-oriented outdoor sanctuary where they can relax, entertain, and retreat from the outside world. As well as providing greater privacy from neighboring properties, the couple wanted a space that reflects the family’s energy and values, with a focus on connection and rejuvenation.
Although the couple agreed on the ultimate goal for their new Sanctuary, they had different ideas about how it should look. While he is a fan of clean lines and formality, she likes soft curves that incorporate an element of playfulness. The biggest challenge with this project was finding ways to blend these potentially opposing styles into a harmonious final design.
At the start of the project, Traven spent an afternoon exploring the current backyard. The house is a strikingly modern building set within a large, grassy area with few defining landscape features. It offers minimal privacy from neighboring properties and no real distinction between the different sections. Other than a couple of retaining walls and a walkout basement, the area is pretty much a clean slate.
Following a series of conversations with the family, we drafted a concept based on their unique character and goals. While the wife radiates love and energy, the husband embodies peace and strength. The kids, with their youthful spirits and natural positivity, epitomize joy and curiosity. Combined, the word that captured the essence of the family was “radiance”.
We decided that the new space should revolve around three elemental zones: fire, water, and stone. Each section will create a different atmosphere, allowing the family to flow seamlessly between relaxing, socializing, and meditating. The design will include strong sculptural elements, speaking to the family’s love of art.
Outdoor Kitchen and Game Lounge - In this key entertaining area, a beautiful stone patio ties together a custom outdoor kitchen and games area, sheltered by an automated Struxure pergola system. A custom fire pit sits within a curved section of the patio, flanked by the kitchen on one side and the koi pond on the other.
Koi Pond and Zen Stream - This stunning water feature is the most striking element of the design, consisting of a seven-foot-high waterfall, a cascading stream, and a beautifully precise koi pond bordered with a boardform concrete seat wall to sit and enjoy the view and sounds. The upper stream incorporates a “drunken walk” of staggered stepping stones that crosses the stream to the Sanctuary Pavillion.
The Sanctuary Pavillion - This area is a private sanctuary space, sheltered from the other social areas by unique corten and lighted resin panel artwork by Traven and the Lotus team. A fireplace gives it seasonal appeal. It backs onto the Koi Pond and Zen Stream, providing a relaxing backdrop and soundscape to read, study, meditate, and unwind.
Cascading Decks and Hot Tub - The dual-level deck provides a peaceful area for sunning and socializing. It unites the upper and lower sections of the property with its clean lines, composite decking, and cable rail system. It connects to the existing upper porch making access to all areas functional. The hot tub area sits in the middle level, hidden from above it feels like part of the water feature and overlooks the koi pond and stream.
Radiant Plantings - This stunning area consists of bright yellow and blue plantings, that radiate from the main patio area in a sunbeam pattern. It is impactful but soft, providing a shot of color amid the concrete and stone
The couple’s keen eye for detail is evident in every area of life. From their work as bio-engineers to the home they share with their children, they have a natural inclination to focus on the fine points of a design. Every part of this highly personal design sings with the family’s unique energy, providing a vibrant, peaceful, balanced space that the family will continue to enjoy for years to come.