House Tour: Peace Out
Landscape designer Scott Schrader attains tranquility in Ojai
Scott Shrader thinks he may have had some mystical guidance while working on a property in Ojai. The house is nestled below Chief Peak—the well-known mountain that resembles the profile of a sleeping Native American. “I kept looking at him, feeling like I was digging at his feet,” Shrader says. “It’s a very spiritual spot.”
Not that the L.A. landscape designer needs much help. Shrader creates relaxed organic gardens that blend effortlessly with nature and the structures they surround. He’s done so for celebrities like Patrick Dempsey and at hot spots Gracias Madre and The Ranch (formerly The Ranch at Live Oak Malibu).
This project, a second home and retreat for the owners, was a bit different, as the designer helmed both the exterior and interior—fitting, actually, as the intent was to remove boundaries between in and out. “Everything pockets and opens up to the outside,” says Shrader. “It was important, as they’re very nature oriented.”
The main home is a flowing, 4,000-square-foot one-bedroom with additional guesthouses for visitors and an art studio also on the property. Shrader starts inside when he conceives his landscapes so that the synergy makes sense. “It was great to select the floors, finishes and counters to be seamless with the outdoors,” he says. “I combined Dalle de France limestone and pickled-oak floors to go with the sandy-beige gravel I used outside.”
The home’s palette is in harmony with nature, too. Shades of beige, green and silver echo the area’s hills and the agave and olive trees just outside. “I wanted it to have not just the casualness of Ojai but the colors as well,” says Shrader. “So I took cues from what was around me and brought it in.”
There isn’t an abundance of furniture and accessories, by choice. “It’s Ojai, so it’s innately casual,” says Shrader. The clients, he adds, generally prefer a space that isn’t overly designed.
Partnering with L.A. architect Scott Joyce, the result is a home that feels special yet informal. It’s rich in character while maintaining a peaceful flow that instantly relaxes. “The intent was to give [the owners] something that felt very spa-like,” says Shrader.
The Zen effect emerges the instant one passes the reflective pool that leads up to the airy entry. The open kitchen, dining room and living room flow thanks to the harmonious palette and understated decor. Then there are the bathrooms.
Shrader created separate oases for both husband and wife that literally commune with nature. “His shower opens up to the outside, which is kind of beautiful,” says the designer. “Just like the rest of the house, you often don’t know if you are inside or out.” In her area, a freestanding tub is surrounded on three sides by French doors that open to a private garden.
If the interiors are about pulling back, the gardens that surround the home are exuberant with natural layers. To complement the existing lush oak trees and curvy boulders, Shrader used 100-year-old olive trees, aloe, lavender, agave and bursts of cheerful, peachy-orange Polka roses around house. He also added Metrosideros shrubs and California bay laurels for screening. “It’s designed so you never see a car or a fence; it’s just an unobstructed view of nature,” he says. “It’s all about creating a feeling of peace.”
A signature in Shrader designs, the elements give back to Mother Nature. Every plant is California native or compatible, and even the gravel replenishes the land’s aquifer. “It’s not only a relaxing refuge but a sustainable one,” he says.
Such interconnectedness reflects a broad prospective, extending beyond the property lines—even in a visual sense. “I call it borrowed landscape,” Shrader explains. “The design flows from what is planted to what is in the distance. The effect is you don’t know what is yours or what is not.”
Written by KERSTIN CZARRA.
Photography by LISA ROMEREIN.