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Enhancing The Luxury Look & Feel Of Your Home's Exterior With Modern Style Water Features

As a residential interior designer in California, I’m always looking for innovative ways to elevate the aesthetics and ambiance of my clients’ homes. When I find an element that’s both a treat for the senses while also having the power to calm and ground us, I’m all in! One such element–though often overlooked, even in luxury interior design–is a water feature. Beyond their visual appeal, a modern-style water feature can transform your outdoor space into a serene sanctuary. There are so many benefits of incorporating water features into your home's exterior design, from the soothing sounds it creates to the other elements of nature it invites into your landscape, but also the exciting possibilities it brings with it when it comes to design and material usage.

Let’s dive in!

Added ambiance & privacy

I truly think one of the biggest benefits of adding a water feature to any outdoor environment isn’t about how it looks but rather how it sounds. While pools and ponds are also great, there’s something especially wonderful about adding moving water to your yard or garden that trickles and flows.

Modern water features like this surrounded by pea gravel, are meant to be experienced as much as looked at.
Image via @EDGEhomes

I love placing water features near the entrance of a property and/or in the backyard. That way, you and your guests are greeted coming and going by the loveliest sites and sounds.

Although the sound of moving water is itself relaxing and peaceful, if you have traffic noise or other neighborhood sounds you find disruptive, adding a water feature can help add to your sense of privacy by buffering those sounds (we’re actually employing this trick in our Rancho project). It’s such a great way to help you feel more ensconced and cocooned in your own private sanctuary space when enjoying your outdoor spaces!

Attracting nature’s beauty

One thing that’s important to know about adding a water feature to your outdoor space is that it’s going to draw some beautiful animals and insects to put on a beautiful show for you.

All kinds of birds love having a spot to land and bathe. Dragonflies and butterflies also love skidding over the top of the water to sneak a sip or landing on a damp surface. Take this into consideration when deciding where to locate your water feature. Placing it where you can see it from multiple vantage points, say a kitchen nook as well as an outdoor seating area, so you can watch the birds flying in and out in the morning.

Environmentally friendly water features like this one with a blue tile bottom will still look beautiful if turned off to conserve water.
Image via

Eco-friendly & resourceful

Whether you’re in California like I am or not, being environmentally conscious when thinking about adding a water feature to your home’s landscape is imperative. Be sure your water feature is able to recycle and conserve water efficiently and effectively. I have a system at my own home that collects rainwater from the gutters and refills our pond with a pump, creating a very environmentally friendly solution.

When designing a water feature for a client, I’m passionate about creating a look and feel that harmonizes with the natural surroundings while minimizing environmental impact. Whatever the design, I make sure to consult with experts in the inner workings of water features to be sure we use an approach that focuses on sustainability by minimizing water waste and reducing the strain on local water resources.

Make it modern

I love that water features provide a way to introduce another hardscape element into a landscape design that’s also dynamic and functional. Just like any other hardscape element, you want your water feature to be cohesive with the architecture of your home. While a formal, stately fountain may look right at home in front of an ultra-traditional style home, a more modern home requires something quite different.

Modern-style water features like this one with a mix of pea gravel, poured concrete, and stacked stone are both casual and intentional in design.
Image via @scott_shrader

In those cases, a modern-style water feature with a bit of a rustic feel is in order. I’m personally drawn to designs that feel sculptural yet organic and intentional yet informal.

When it comes to materials, I love natural stone and poured concrete. In our design for our Rancho project, we’re incorporating salvaged material. Old troughs, recycled containers, and repurposed wine barrels make great receptacles for fountains. Salvaged metal pieces and beams can be incorporated as accents in these designs, as well.

When designing a water feature, I’m very sensitive to making sure that it can be sustained long-term. Whether you live in a drought zone as I do currently or not, you always want to be sure that if your water feature needs to be turned off and allowed to dry out, there's going to be something pretty on the bottom to look at such as beautiful rock. The last thing you want is to have an ugly plastic liner or cement that was never intended to be visible on display for all to see!

I can’t overstate the beauty and enjoyment water features can bring to how you experience your home’s outdoor spaces. Incorporating water into our environments can provide us with a wonderful sense of tranquility and grounding, and doing so in the form of a modern-style water feature brings a wealth of added possibilities and benefits into the mix.

If you’re inspired to unlock the true potential of your home with water features and other impactful design elements, let's talk!


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