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each room is really functional. Our long French dining table fits, and the feng shui was good.”
However, she says, “When we walked through the master bedroom into the back yard and there was a heart-shaped swimming pool, my heart dropped. It was a deal breaker.”
Because her husband is very handy, however, she saw all the potential. “I saw a heart-shaped swimming pool. I didn’t see what he saw, but I trusted when he said, ‘I can make this work.’ “
The interior of their home, which Jean is renovating room by room, got most of their attention until a year ago.
Although Grace found amusement in learning that the homeowner who installed the pool was named Romeo and his master bedroom had a heart-shaped bed, it wasn’t enough to soften her abhorrence of it.
“It was the drought of last summer,” Grace says. “I just couldn’t put one more drop of water in that pool.
“The water kept evaporating and I felt it was wrong. We filled the pool, threw dirt in it and then thought, ‘Now what?’ “
They invited Hinderberger over, and Grace recalls telling him she wanted good feng shui. Being Chinese she grew up with that; she wanted a lot of circles. She told him there couldn’t be anything narrow or straight.
“We entertain a lot in the back yard so it has to be functional, and I wanted a small studio, something very Zen. Less is more so don’t put too much in there.”
Hinderberger set right to work, drew up plans and made a small
model. After discussions and some refinements, the work started.
The new studio draws on the Craftsman heritage of the house and the Vatuses’ love of Asian aesthetics for what Hinderberger has dubbed a “Craftzen” design.
The studio’s floor is carbonized bamboo in the main room and travertine tiles in the bathroom. It has a vaulted ceiling, exposed wood beams and three skylights. French doors open onto the garden, and two large windows made of clear glass blocks bring in additional light.
One of the glass block windows curves against the edge of the koi pond.
In addition to the koi pond with its waterfall and a Zen stone bridge, there is a crescent shaped deck of Ipe wood and the salvaged brick. The innovative garden furniture is all designed and constructed by Jean without any nails. He has patents pending on his designs.
Serenely overlooking it all and a focal point of the back yard is a carved teak statue from Thailand of a woman in a prayer pose that is intended to welcome.
Grace purchased her years ago at the Design Center in San Francisco after wakening one morning with a premonition that the statue was there waiting for her.
Flanking the statue are two enormous Asian wooden gates, each measuring 9 feet, 6 inches tall, 4 feet, 6 inches wide and 2½ inches thick, with their original hardware. The Vatus found the gates in a consignment store in Mountain View,and anchored them with steel and cement.
When the statue and gates were in place, Grace says, she was dissatisfied.
“We’ve got amazing gates and an amazing statue, but it blends into the fence,” she says.
“I told Steve I needed something in Chinese red with bamboo that suggested movement.
“Within a second, he said he knew what to do.”
Hinderberger returned with a small model of undulating red “ribbon” panels woven between bamboo poles.
Using the model as a guide, Jean built the background, making the panels of a pliable plastic he had to paint five times to achieve the red Grace wanted. Then the statue had her frame.
With the help of contractor Jesus Rodriguez of Rodriguez Landscaping in San Jose, all the plantings were done by November 2010 and are filling in.
The Vatuses purposely avoided adding any trees or shade structure to the center of their new back yard. The large lemon tree in the back corner provides some shade, and more comes in the afternoon from the new studio and the garage that is Jean’s woodworking shop.
“We can move around to find shade rather than having something in the middle of the back yard to obstruct the lines,” Grace says. “It’s now very harmonious and it flows really well. This is the work of the three of us.”
In addition to the Vatus gardens at 1287 Yosemite Ave., there are four other gardens on view during the tour:
98 Atlas Ave. Visitors will see yellow irises in bloom, planted by the home’s original owner in 1936, and find six chickens at home in the back yard.
1333 Mariposa Ave. This is a “tropical paradise” that is the work of Green Design, which has a store on The Alameda and a nursery on Meridian Avenue.
295 Tillman Ave. Plantings are in a palette of pink, purple and white to complement the Arts Crafts bungalow home.
310 Sequoia Ave. This garden is considered historic.
If You’re going
The Hanchett Park Garden Tour focuses on the area off The Alameda; two previous tours focused on homes there.
This year the organizers decided to focus on hidden gardens and to partner with the newly established San Jose Parks Foundation.
They are splitting the proceeds, with half going to the foundation and half to the Hanchett Park Heritage Project. The project will replicate the original pillars that stood at the Martin Avenue entrance of the three-way intersection of Martin, The Alameda and Race Street.
Tour tickets are $15 through May 17 and $20 thereafter, and are available at Green Design, 1341 The Alameda, and Willow Glen Home Garden, 1123 Lincoln Ave. On tour day May 21 tickets will be sold at the boutique at 295 Sequoia Ave. The gardens are open for touring from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
On May 19 a preview party fundraiser for the foundation will take place at Antonella’s Ristorante, 1701 Park Ave., at Naglee Avenue, with wine, hors d’oeuvres and tiramisu. Sponsored by the Shasta Hanchett Park Neighborhood Association, tickets are $100 per person and include a tour ticket. Proceeds from the party benefit the foundation. For more information or tickets, visit www.sanjoseparks.org or call 408.893.7275.
Article source: http://www.mercurynews.com/san-jose-neighborhoods/ci_18053828