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Behind the wall, a quieter entry garden.

Behind the wall, a quieter entry garden Enclosing part of the front yard turned a public space into a private one. From the outside, this 1950s house in Southern California had a dated look and an exposed front entry. The change brought subtle, contemporary lines to the house and, inside the enclosure, created a tranquil entry court that's out of sight of passing cars. The new 74-inch-high wall blocks street noise and also increases security.

Originially, the U-shaped design had single-car garages at the ends of symmetrical wings, with the front door deep at the rear. Architect Mark A. Quental of Placentia expanded the left-hand garage sideways into the former court and forward toward the street. The garage on the right was remodeled as an extension of an elongated master bedroom; cutting off a corner made a place for French doors to open to the new court.

The front wall, with its 30-inch-high band of glass block, encompasses a 13- by 17-foot area in front of the bedroom wing and center walkway. Since the wall sits well back from the sidewalk, its height meets the local building code. For security, the gate in from the driveway has an intercom and electric release controlled from inside the house.

As the top picture shows, the original house had a flat roof and boxy look. By adding tall, square columns with pyramid peaks to the side of the enlarged garage, Quental was able to add a short mansard-like roof that gives the illusion that the house is lower. The roofing is metal with a baked enamel finish.

Plantings: understated outside, lush inside the wall

The planting scheme, by landscape designer Nick Williams of Calabasas, has two distinct themes. On the outside, it's clean and understated, dominated by the strong horizontals of the wall and strip of lawn. To diminish the effect of the expanse of concrete, Williams used paver blocks to extend the lawn across the driveway. The pavers are sturdy enough to bear the weight of cars, and the grass that's planted in their dirt-filled voids gives a greener look to the drive. The lawn intersects with a brick path leading to the side-facing entry gate.

Inside the court, plantings are lush and soft. Sound control is important here: the solid wall blocks most street noise, and a small waterfall fills the space with soothing, liquid sounds. Additional silk floss trees, as well as mimosa and Tupidanthus, will shade the courtyard. The open-framed trellis will soon be covered with bougainvillea.
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Date:Mar 1, 1988
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