April 06, 2014 9:10 am  • 

The trend towards homeowners wanting to improve and perfect the home they live in is a phenomenon that Dean Savarino sees constantly. In some cases, families have been discussing and imagining the changes they would like to make for years. Moving the dreamer’s vision to reality is a tough leap. Homeowners know the routine on adding space or renovating kitchens in their house: you need a plan and you call a designer or an architect. “Most of my clients are wanting to enjoy their home and their backyard,” he explains. “The majority of homes we work with are existing homes and we're enhancing them.”

But when the improvements involves exterior space, when the homeowners want to put in a pool, an outdoor kitchen, a pavilion, a greenhouse, a pizza oven or a scenic garden---there is dissonance. Here’s what could happen: The homeowner, so thrilled with the interior renovation, gazes out the window of her new, high-tech kitchen onto the pristine blue water of the recently-installed pool, realizes that in order to get to the pool she has to cross a wide and dusty gravel road.

This is not exactly what happened one of Dean’s clients but it’s close enough. The family had nurtured a fantastic idea about an indoor-outdoor space. “Two flat screens built-in above the gigantic fireplace along one of the walls,” Dean readily accesses a farily dramatic set of photos of this unique renovation. The outdoor space is a great room with large comfortable seating, beautifully lit, windows showing bright green foliage decorating the front area of the house, visible through the back wall of the renovation. The other two sides of the space have no walls, but are flanked by classic stone pillars that extend out to a patio and a pool. The first time Dean saw it his jaw dropped. The thoughtful and carefully designed outdoor living space suddenly stopped. Piles of bricks, tufts of grass and pebbles surrounding the exquisite pool---he had seldom seen a contrast so stark.

Kind of a nightmare, but a wonderful challenge in his mind. “We have a very unique, new program now, through technology and CAD renderings we can show our clients in 3D exactly what the project is going to look like. “You really want to start with a plan,” he says, whether you're building a house, a garden or a landscape.” A good design matters especially when you are integrating it with an architectural interior design that is already in place. (It’s not unusual for Dean to work with another designer, architect, lighting company or implement a sound system into a master plan he’s created for a landscape.)

Now that Dean’s has powerful computers for design graphics he can produce complex and visually complete images and the drawings will incorporate pieces to the puzzle that come from other sources, plumbers, electricians, even materials vendors. Putting a client’s ideas into a plan---for a $500 fee--could require a 15-hour investment for Dean Savarino; he welcomes the risk. Whether he ultimately gets the job or not, he has done his best interpretation and the design he thinks is most likely to succeed.

And Dean finds that more and more his clients will opt for an artistic risk. The clients crave the authentic and original. “We had a client who wanted a large, circular granite couch with a fire pit in the center,” Dean says. “So I said this dinky fire pit is not going to look right, it’s too small. So, we built this fire table.” The table which is long and narrow, but runs across the center of the circular space in the front of the stone couch has coals and flames in a strip down the middle. It’s breathtaking. “We built a whole outdoor kitchen and worked with the heating company to run an extra large gas line. The bricks were cut and made custom.

“I don't like the usual, but a lot of our customers don’t want the cookie-cutter approach either. You have to listen to what they want. Ask the right questions. And then you know the materials you are going to use. You know what it will look like in the sun, how the pool is going to work visually with the trees. I know what the atmosphere will be like. We have put in vertical gardens for clients for privacy, for instance.”

“The work is amazing and challenging,” Dean says. “When I stand back and look at what we were able to do together with our client, it’s really unbelievable.”





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