For better or worse, the world is changing fast.
Our lives are getting busier, and our homes are becoming increasingly more important. We’re turning to them for respite, using them as offices, extending our living space to include elderly or young adult family members, and renting out space for extra income.
Space is at a premium. It’s no secret that space is hard to come by in California and, increasingly, all over the U.S. We have to make the most of what we have.
Now, more than ever, our world needs us to act responsibly. Natural disasters like fires and floods are an ever-present threat in many places. We recognize the need to protect the environment and our properties through responsible, natural landscaping.
It’s because of all this that New Avenue has partnered with Christine Krause Design Studio to bring personalized, environmentally friendly landscape design services to our clients. Here’s the scoop on Christine and her amazing work.
When landscape designer Christine Krause thought about all the unnecessary lawn care going on in rural areas, she saw waste and environmental damage. But she also saw potential. Christine recognized that careful planning, native plants, and responsible design could restore the environment and cut down on maintenance.
“Personally,” she says, “I’m a huge advocate of reusing, taking care of what you have, not buying unnecessarily, not being wasteful.”
It’s that sense of environmental stewardship that inspires much of Christine’s landscape design work. She helps her clients build serene, responsibly designed landscapes—places that help them connect with nature while protecting it, whether they’re in the city, the suburbs, or the countryside.
A Unique Perspective and a New Design System
Christine’s formal education includes Duke University, the Inchbald School of Design in London, and the Parsons School of Design in New York. Her world travels, education, and work experience all play a role in her creativity and skill in landscaping design.
One experience in particular, the Healthier Materials and Sustainable Buildings Certification she earned at Parsons, gave Christine a unique perspective on sustainability, one that goes beyond recycling and solar energy. “It’s about really looking at the life cycle of a product and making sure that it’s reusable,” she says. Christine notes the importance of considering where something comes from at the most basic level, what it takes to manufacture, the resources involved in delivery, and the item’s entire life cycle. “That cycle really was a big impetus for designing for a changing climate,” she says, referring to her proprietary system for design.
It’s called the Smart Design SystemTM, and Christine developed it to ensure that her designs are perfect for the setting, healthy for the environment, and just what the homeowner wants. As she uses the system, Christine takes into account every aspect of the natural surroundings while creating a serene, sustainable, stunning outdoor space.
Personalized Design (and Help with the Red Tape)
When a client schedules a consultation with Christine, she works with them to understand their goals and priorities for their property. Some clients need help with water management and beautification, while others want to install larger structures like pergolas or outdoor kitchens.
For Christine, this is one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
“In the initial consultation, really getting a sense of who they are, their style, their lifestyle, what they’re looking for, what their goals are, it becomes very personal,” she says. “I think the word ‘bespoke’ defines how the process works, because it really is so individual. It’s not cookie-cutter at all.”
There’s no cookie cutting when it comes to location, either. As part of her Smart Design System, Christine conducts a walkthrough to determine the site condition and help her clients make the most of their outdoor areas. She shares her observations and recommendations, noting ideal locations for new structures and plants. She also provides her advice for dealing with issues such as drainage, tree care, and grading. Once the walkthrough and consultation are complete, Christine provides a proposal outlining her design fees.
For clients who are ready to proceed, she creates a detailed master plan, which she describes as “a guidemap.” It reflects everything the client wants to do and includes construction details, sketches, a planting plan, and a video so the client can see what their new outdoor space will look like. In creating the master plan, Christine visits the site several times, observing the area at various times of day to optimize her design. Next, Christine helps to get estimates for construction and planting. Where necessary, she handles permits with the city and entities such as the Wetlands Commission.
Budgeting Gets Personal, Too
She recognizes that every project is different, and so is every budget: “We talk a lot about realistic numbers and budgets. Most of the time most people don’t have the budget to do everything they want in the beginning.” That’s why she helps her clients to prioritize items and, where necessary, spread their projects out over time. “Most of my clients that I have I’ve been working with for a while,” she says, pointing out that almost 70% of her clients work with her over a long period of time.
Whatever the budget, Christine believes strongly in conducting a thorough analysis of the site and creating the master plan. “There might be a little bit more expense for the plan in the beginning, but in the long run, it saves money because you’re not putting in a terrace and then taking it out because it was in the wrong place.”
Streams, Pools, Terraces, Orchards, and…Goats?
Christine’s years of experience run the gamut from garden design to total makeovers of huge properties. One of her largest and most interesting projects took place on a property of over 300 acres and included stream restoration and bringing native plants back to the area. She also helped with landscaping a swimming pool, creating an organic vegetable garden and getting it certified, planting an orchard, and putting in a tree farm as a source of new trees for the property.
With this project, Christine was involved in an unusual but environmentally friendly way of removing invasive plants — goats were moved around the property to eat the unwanted vegetation, so there was no need to burn it. She also used her strong understanding of plants to create a habitat that would encourage bees and other native wildlife to return to the area.
Many of Christine’s projects involve pools, terraces, screened porches, walkways, and even relocating existing fixtures such as driveways. She also has some more unusual requests in her portfolio: “I’ve done a sustainable outdoor sauna in the woods. It was amazing. And we’ve done several outdoor showers. People really like those.”
While every project is different, they all have something in common: the clients get what they want for their property in an eco-friendly way.
We’re ecstatic to welcome Christine to New Avenue
As part of the New Avenue team, Christine offers her landscape design expertise to clients in the Bay Area. It’s another step forward as we work to change home ownership.