In with the New…and the Old

Design pro revisits key mid-century themes tied to new CA-Modern landscaping story
Fridays On the Homefront
This serene terrace, designed for the Kreaden family's Sunnyvale Eichler by landscape architect Bernard Trainor + Associates, is a fine example of a modern landscape. All photos: Jason Liske.
Fridays On the Homefront
More of Trainor's Kreaden Eichler design.
Fridays On the Homefront
More of Trainor's Kreaden Eichler design.

While recently remodeling the yards and gardens of two Eichlers on the Peninsula and in the South Bay, veteran landscape architect Bernard Trainor, of Bernard Trainor + Associates, was reminded that some things defy improvement.

Born and raised Down Under, and now based in old Monterey, Trainor had not had the opportunity to fully remodel Eichler landscapes before taking on his two recent projects. But, in the end, his results were simply stunning.

"These were our first serious remodels, top to bottom, of Eichlers," Trainor admits of the two homes, which are among the gardens handpicked to illustrate home-improvement editor Tanja Kern's new landscaping story, 'Seamless Flow To and Fro,' for the spring 2015 issue of CA-Modern magazine.

Trainor is very cognizant, however, of the themes explored in the story, such as when fellow landscape architect JC Miller, of East Bay-based Vallier Design Associates, tells Kern, "Mid-century modern landscape [back in the postwar] was more focused on usable spaces and direct connections. They were beautiful but less fussy."

"I think the thing that makes us really proud to work on these projects is, we're taking something that was a really special design and giving it a new life," Trainor says of his two Eichler gardens.

While undertaking the two projects, he focused initially on "respecting and highlighting the best original garden elements and simultaneously adding a layer of new ideas that enhance the spaces."

"They were just beautiful old plants with a lot of history to them," he says of certain elements of each yard that he included in their new designs.

For the Kreaden home in Sunnyvale, there were several large trees definitely worth saving, along with some cordyline. For the Meyers family, their early Eichler in Palo Alto had some signature tree ferns that Trainor knew should stay.