In the last few years we have heard so much about lifestyle, but sometimes when we hear a word so often, it can to lose its impact. Although the word “lifestyle” has been overused by marketers and brands, it has real significance and there exists an opportunity to connect us to outdoor living and how we live our lives.

With Memorial Day behind us marking the kickoff of Summer, this idea of outdoor living takes on much more meaning especially since people in the Northern Hemisphere are opening up the windows and doors and heading outdoors (even though in California, they have been outside all year…). But how do we take the idea of living outdoors to the next level?

photo above and below — all the same project by Katharine Webster in San Francisco’s Pacific Height’s neighborhood, all about outdoor living and lifestyle..
“how do you want to live in your outdoor space?”
the outdoors is the new frontier for lifestyle

Landscape designers are leading the way changing the way we think about our own lifestyle. In the past it was fashion designers who understood how their clients dressed, what their needs were, and how clothing reflected their unique status or way of life. Later, it was the innovative work of interior designers who pushed us into a less formal way of living — their work reflecting the ease with which people were living their lives. It is refreshing to think that the outdoors is now the new frontier! It is fascinating listening to the philosophy of Katharine Webster, the well-known and highly regarded landscape designer based in San Francisco. In addition to her landscape design projects and innovative product collaborations with brands such as Neiman Marcus and Horchow, she has dazzled attendees for three consecutive years with her incredible projects for the critically acclaimed San Francisco Decorator’s Showcase as well as being the only landscape designer to be included twice in the popular Kitchen in the Vineyard Garden Tour in the Napa Valley.

Katharine explained that her work is a reflection of how she lives her own life:

“Every landscape design project I take on is an opportunity to answer questions people have about the way they live in their outdoor spaces. I design solutions that fit the needs and compliment the lifestyles of my clients. Most landscape designers can transform an outdoor space — a deck, patio, back yard or plot of land into something that the designer wants — but it is a greater challenge and greater reward to not just design what the client wants, but better yet, design a space for the life your client wants to have! The landscapes I create are not “straight-forward” separate areas, but integrated and layered/textured spaces that flow together to reveal something personal about our clients, not unlike how rooms flow together in a well-designed home.”

This 110+ year old tree survived the Great SF Earthquake, but had started to die, the owners wanted to save it… they turned to Katharine Webster to not only save the tree, but keep a play area and add entertaining space…
(above) Katharine re-imagined the space with a whole new design and saved the tree! (below) the completed project

Katharine cherishes the fact that In California, we have the luxury of living outside all year round. However, this is something often taken for granted. Katharine grew on the East Coast and in Europe where people can’t and don’t wait to get outdoors when the temperatures rise! When the threat of frost subsides — that’s the cue to get outdoors and get planting immediately… no time to waste for in a matter of months, as the leaves will be turning colors and winter will arrive way too soon! But even though we have incredible weather in the West, we also have had to endure the drought, it has certainly given everyone pause and makes us appreciate how precious our environment truly is. The drought has started life-changing conversations about landscape design, opening up new dialogue that embraces strategic consideration and creative attention into how spaces outdoors are planned.

A Wine Country Project — BEFORE & AFTER — this is the BEFORE

Katharine goes on to explain that through a thoughtful discovery process, she has personally developed an innovative procedure that encourages clients to connect with their outdoor spaces in a new way. What do they want to add more of in their lives? Is it downtime with less devices, connection with family and friends, play time with pets, or creating new daily habits? Perhaps opportunities for teenagers to congregate?

The AFTER. An outdoor space in Napa Wine Country.
Wine Country Retreat facing olive trees and vineyards

By transforming your built environment, you can enhance your lifestyle, your imagination and your daily living patterns. Katharine did just this in her own home, which is a laboratory for her:

“We are a small family of three, and we decided that we did not need a formal dining room, but rather a celebrated space to cook, entertain, do homework, and spend precious family time together. This type of thinking is what excites me when thinking about a project and gives it built form, because it is about the beauty and function of the space, and the connections that will be made. I urge my clients to dream about the life they want to have, not just take what you have for granted. Stretching for new habits or an enriched life is a goal we should all have.”

SF Designer Showcase. The space before had been neglected for years…

For years, people didn’t embrace and even failed to understand how important the idea of integration is, but now it seems these ideas are on the forefront of design and clients are embracing this method. Indeed it is a movement that has become the forefront of our modern relaxed lifestyle.

Katharine Webster and her team came up with this design for the space.
The final version of the space! One of the most photographed spaces at the showcase.

Katharine Webster and her work has been featured on television, magazines and newspapers around the country. Most recently, she is published in this month’s California Home + Design magazine, an article on “Cool Pools”, as well as a product feature in California Homes magazine. Check out her company website www.webstermla.com