FAQ

Q: What are people looking for in outdoor home designs these days?

A: In the Seattle metropolitan area, among the biggest trends in outdoor living is the covered outdoor room. More and more, homeowners are looking to extend the time they can spend outside – and a covered structure with heaters or a fireplace adds value to the home and creates a three season room for the enjoyment of the homeowner. Attached, covered outdoor spaces also add square footage to the home for resale. Often outdoor kitchens with plenty of open counter space are incorporated so that homeowners can grill outside all year long and easily entertain in our beautiful Pacific Northwest summers.

Q: What does a well-designed outdoor space look like?

A: A modern outdoor space has details that coordinate with and compliment the architecture of the home. When a landscape architect incorporates both architectural details from the home as well as the design aesthetic of the homeowner, a well-designed outdoor space will flow from inside to out seamlessly.

Elements of a well-designed outdoor space include ample room for entertaining; focal points including specimen trees, water features and even outdoor sculpture; plantings that soften hardscaped areas; and in the Pacific Northwest in particular, areas to seek cover in the rain and stay warm seasonally. For sloped lots, retaining walls can create more space and turn unusable slopes into highly usable spaces.

Q: What’s Urban Oasis’ philosophy?

A: At Urban Oasis, our goal is to create unique outdoor spaces for each of our clients based upon their personal style and the overall architectural character of their home. We are not a company that designs in one style – we meet each of our clients at their home for each appointment to take cues from its architecture and also to understand our clients’ tastes in decorating. We begin our design process by exploring function and layout of space based on our client’s project goals. We then refine the material palette through the design process, with our clients’ input, to achieve the perfect look and feel. Our company is proud that each of our designs has a unique quality that reflects our clients’ needs and aesthetics. Increasing the value and enjoyment of our client’s homes is key to our design success. Each project is designed to increase our client’s use and enjoyment of their outdoor spaces, and to be an investment in the overall value of their home.

Q: What makes Urban Oasis unique?

A: Urban Oasis’ partners, Carrie Culp and Trevor Daley, have a long history of working together that is shared with many of their employees. Both partners are involved in every aspect of the project – from the initial design work through the final day of construction. Carrie and Trevor work together to ensure that the materials selection and quality of construction is at the highest level. We strive to keep our clients informed throughout both design and construction. Working in this way, our design and construction process is nimble and can accommodate changes as necessary to improve any aspect of the design and construction process.

Q: What’s your favorite element of the outdoor remodel process?

A: LED low voltage lighting with zoning, dimming and color adjustment is the icing on the cake according to our landscape architect. Your space should be as beautiful and inviting in the evening as it is during the day. Lighting helps to increase the amount of time we can spend outside throughout the year – including later into those summer evenings. It also illuminates your outdoor spaces so that they can be enjoyed from inside your home all year!

Q: What do you find inspirational?

A: At Urban Oasis, we love Spring! Everyone is excited about longer days and the chance to spend more time outside. During this time, updated materials as well as fun, new plant varietals are being introduced. We spend a great deal of time from Fall to early Spring exploring new materials and are inspired to incorporate them into our designs and share them with our clients.

Q: What advice would you give to someone beginning an outdoor remodel project?

A: Prior to meeting a designer, spend some time as a family dreaming about the potential of your outdoor space and prioritizing the items on your wishlist. Think about how your family will grow and mature, and what needs may exist in the future that are different from those you have today. Look through magazines like Luxe, Sunset, Garden Design and others. Explore Luxe online along with websites like Houzz.com. Then compile a file of images that appeal to you. This way, when you meet with a landscape architect to discuss your project, it is easier for you to convey your project goals as well as your aesthetic tastes clearly. This will get the project started in the right direction from the very beginning.

Q: How do you achieve balance between a design that complements both the style of the home and inclination of the homeowners with your own creative process?

A: At Urban Oasis Design & Construction, our main mission is to design outdoor spaces that achieve our client’s goals for functionality and perfectly harmonize with the architecture of the home as well as their personal taste in decorating. No two of our projects are alike because none of our customers are alike. Design that complements our clients’ lifestyle and aesthetic taste is the most important influence in our design work.

Q: What design elements or innovations in the outdoor living industry are you most excited about?

A: At Urban Oasis, we strive to keep up to date on the newest innovations. At the ASLA (American Society of Landscape Architects) Convention in Chicago last October, we were particularly excited about advancements in heating, sustainable decking and low voltage LED lighting. Electric heating elements for outdoor structures have improved greatly and rapidly – and are now low-profile and emit a high level of heat. Infratech has some very attractive heaters that can either be ceiling-mounted or recessed. Low voltage LED lighting has also come such a long way, from dull points of blue light, to systems that include dimming, zoning and color adjustment. FX Luminaire is one of our favorite lighting brands and has done a spectacular job in creating LED lighting that can be as warm and inviting as the old incandescent bulbs we are used to seeing. Composite decking is always improving – quickly becoming more interesting and natural looking. Thermory is now bringing their brand of sustainable hardwood decking to the United States. It is an elegant choice for decking material.

Q: How has your process changed as technology has advanced?

A: Our practice grows and changes with new innovations in products (like lighting, decking, heat sources, etc.). It is important to Urban Oasis that we offer the greatest variety of quality, up-to-date, sustainable products as possible. We also grow with new technologies in drawing and presentation software. We are aware that most people do not read architectural plans regularly and strive to find new ways of conveying our design ideas simply and easily to our clients, so that they can envision options for their new spaces from the beginning of the design process.

Q: How has your industry changed over the last 10 years?

A: After 2007/2008, many of the larger companies involved in residential landscape design and construction closed or broke into smaller companies, some more specialized. Some companies design to their own style, while others like Urban Oasis strive to design with their client’s input and taste as the guiding factor. As homeowners begin to interview residential design/build companies, it is important that they feel comfortable with the design process and the designer with whom they are working on the project. To that end, Urban Oasis offers a one hour free design consultation in order to learn more about our potential clients’ projects and also to introduce our company and design/build process to them. We believe this is time well spent for both parties and starts our projects off quickly in the right direction.

Q: Why is it so important to have a cohesive style throughout every aspect of an outdoor space?

A: One of the great benefits of working with an experienced designer is achieving a cohesive style throughout an outdoor space. Cohesion of style and careful integration of spaces are the keys to a homeowner’s satisfaction with their project and to an investment in the space itself. The style should be both consistent within the landscape and a compliment to the home’s architecture. As a part of our design process, we will typically explore three or more design options that could achieve our clients’ stated goals for their project. In that way, they can also explore different compositions and styles to see which one feels most appealing to them – and which layout functions best for their family.

Q: How has the increased interest in environmentally-friendly living changed your approach?

A: Sustainability is high on our priority list. We strive to stay up to date on sustainable materials as new products become available frequently. We do our best to test new materials and learn as much as we can about them before installing them for clients. One of our favorite installations is any kind of “Ecoturf” or groundcover lawn. Outdoor compositions need a pool of quiet space in which the eye can rest – and a lawn is the perfect solution for that; however, it does not need to be a water intensive lawn. There are a variety of seed combinations that produce a lawn that will stay green year-round with minimal water and mowing. Using a “Stepable” groundcover is another option. Our designers are always mindful of giving our clients the greatest variety of environmentally friendly and low-maintenance options for their projects. Our landscape architect is well-versed in native plants of the Pacific Northwest and spends time educating our clients about their use. Once established native plants grow well with little help and are the perfect choice for a low maintenance garden.

Q: What’s it like to see a project come together in the final stages?

A: Our entire team at Urban Oasis gets excited when a project is complete. It is a privilege to work through the design and construction of our clients’ projects and to see them come to life from the ground up. We consider our construction employees craftsmen – and, like the owners of our company, they strive for the highest level of perfection in the projects the build and create. At the end of the day, seeing our clients use and enjoy their outdoor rooms is a wonderful reward from our work that never gets old.