Home & Design

The white-brick pool house and attached grilling station spill onto a patio paved in seamlessly blended Aleutian marble and Azek decking.

The pool is visible from the revamped deck through a railing of metal grids framed in painted cedar.

Designer Christine Philp selected minimalist Barlow Tyrie furnishings for poolside use.

The pool house, designed by Aggregate Architecture + Design in the style of the main house, opens to the patio via a wall of sliders; an overhang shelters the grilling station.

At one end of the deck, a wide, artfully lit stair leads down to the patio, where sleek furnishings gather by the tall, white-brick fireplace.

Katia Goffin, ASLA, Katia Goffin Gardens. Portrait by Roger Foley

Neatly framed in stone, the lawn is bordered on one side by a row of gingko trees, planted in front of a hornbeam hedge.

Bespoke Garden

Katia Goffin tailors a modern landscape plan to complement a vintage Chevy Chase residence

Clients with a decrepit deck overlooking an overgrown backyard turned to Katia Goffin Gardens with a wish list that included a pool, pool house and fireplace—all with easy access to their white-brick residence.    “We organized the pool and fireplace on an axis parallel to the house, which ties the whole site together,” recounts principal Katia Goffin. Working with a design team that included Aggregate Architecture + Design, Palindrome Design and Superior Construction Services, Goffin devised a clean-lined, contemporary landscape that harmoniously integrates the traditional abode with its verdant surroundings via sleek hardscape, lush greenery and complementary white-brick structures.

Replacing the ramshackle deck was first on the agenda. In lieu of ugly wooden supports, a five-foot-tall brick wall is capped in bluestone and topped with a streamlined railing of metal grids framed in painted cedar. A six-foot-wide stair leads down to the pool area, which is anchored at one end by a pool house with glass doors that slide back for indoor-outdoor flow; a built-in grilling station nestles along one side. A tall brick fireplace within a patio of vein-cut Aleutian marble beckons.

“The homeowner was more interested in hardscape than green scape,” Goffin comments. “The marble was meticulously chosen for its near-uniform color.” No-maintenance Azek pool decking blends with the stone.

 Gingko trees and hornbeam hedges are layered with ground cover along the perimeter of the yard, creating softness and a sense of depth. “It’s about finding the right proportion between built elements, open green space and planting beds,” Goffin observes. Hydrangea and climbing roses add color to the mix.

Landscape Architecture: Katia Goffin, ASLA, Katia Goffin Gardens, McLean, Virginia. Pool House Architecture: Mark A. Freeman, AIA, Aggregate Architecture + Design, Washington, DC. Interior Design: Christine Philp, Palindrome Design, Arlington, Virginia. Builder: Daniel Steinkoler, Superior Construction Services, LLC, Washington, DC.  

Ask Katia

Advice for clients embarking on a landscape project?
Gardens are living elements. They improve as they mature—but they must be maintained. Never compromise on the design even with a tight budget; get the master plan and add on slowly over years.

How do you add interest to a minimalist landscape?
A strong composition and attention to detail foster different green and entertaining spaces. Pairing architectural and flowing plants with hardscape textures is impactful, as are curated evergreens with a limited color palette.

What are your favorite hardscape materials?
Thermal bluestone or buffed limestone, depending on the palette. I also like Corten steel, gravel for walks, arbors and trellises. The key is working with materials that will stand the test of time.

How do you connect architecture and landscape elements?
It’s a question of getting the right proportions for both built and natural program elements so the design visually comes together like a beautiful puzzle.

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