Need spring inspiration? Two local landscape design pros shine a light on three of their gorgeous projects.
J.R. Peter and Joseph Colao PHOTO BY JIMI SMITH
J.R. Peter and Joseph Colao

Landscape designers Joseph Colao and J.R. Peter, partners and founders of Colao & Peter (colaopeter.com) have a simple philosophy about beautiful spaces: Start with the clients’ vision. “As the professionals, we see our role as understanding and articulating that vision with the objective of unveiling the aesthetic and functional potential of the landscape,” says Colao. “We also believe that the smallest details matter.”

As a high-end firm in the landscape industry, Peter says the duo creates a white-glove service that starts from initial concepts all the way to the completion of the project. “Our client-first approach means we do our best to understand our client and their needs through every step of the project and with good communication throughout, ensuring a smooth and pleasant construction experience,” he says. We recently asked the team to break down three projects that showcase the genius of their work and inspire spring projects.

The team from Colao & Peter created a serene space near The Inn at Little Washington, making sure to create, at the owner’s request, a raised spot away from the pool and other living areas. PHOTO BY JIMI SMITH
The team from Colao & Peter created a serene space near The Inn at Little Washington, making sure to create, at the owner’s request, a raised spot away from the pool and other living areas.

TYPE OF SPACE

“This weekend retreat, located near The Inn at Little Washington, has magnificent 360-degree views of the Shenandoah Mountains,” says Colao. “The client wanted all of the modern conveniences available in the outdoor living world, while staying true to the natural feel of the surrounding landscape.”

CLIENT GOALS

The client wanted a place to relax and one that maximized—and didn’t obstruct—the stunning vistas on the property. “The main directives were a large recreational infinity pool and pool house, but they didn’t want them to detract from any focal point from the house,” says Colao. “They wanted a pool house that could be used in all seasons and some dedicated areas for dining and unwinding.”

DESIGN STRATEGY

“Our strategy was to create a destination outdoor living environment that maximized the amazing views by giving every area purpose and identity,” says Peter. “The centerpiece of the outdoor environment was the 70-foot infinity-edge pool and spa that, by use of the infinity edge, unified the environment with the mountains in the background. We located the two-story pool house off to the side to avoid obstructing views from anywhere on the property, while also creating its own unique vistas in the process.” The client also had a special request: a serene spot that felt removed from the rest of the project but still connected to it. “We achieved this by creating a raised deck for her hammock that [offered even] better views but also created the feeling of a unique destination that was its own little island of solitude,” says Peter.

THE DETAILS

The project’s paving was built out of imported travertine with Pennsylvania select blue flagstone used for the borders and wall caps, while ipe decking was used to create the raised deck in the foreground. The pool house’s board and batten played off the same architectural style of the house, and the LaCantina (lacantinadoors.com) pocket doors could all be opened to create a completely open pool house. The black standing seam metal roof added visual interest to the large structure. The team planted two 25-foot-tall zelkova trees for instant impact. Little Lime hydrangeas, Bloodgood Japanese maples and liriope also were planted.

A pool and spa near Waterford, Va. PHOTO BY JIMI SMITH
A pool and spa near Waterford, Va.

TYPE OF SPACE

“These wonderful clients built a modern farmhouse in Waterford, Va., and they wanted an elegant backyard sanctuary that included a pool and spa, a lounge deck, a covered patio space and extensive plantings,” says Peter.

CLIENT GOALS

“The [idea] was to design and build a backyard environment that complemented the modern farmhouse architectural style of the home,” says Colao. “It was requested that we build a pool and shade structure that maximized the great views of the vineyards adjacent to the property and that flowed with the existing home. Clean, simple but elegant were the main directives by the client.”

DESIGN STRATEGY

For a feeling of quiet serenity, the team used the natural contours of the land and the scenic views as the focus of the design of the entire project. “We wanted little to distract the eye from the environment, so we chose natural materials to match the home and the surroundings and added softscapes to increase the airiness to the project,” says Peter. A black louvered pergola defines the pool’s lounging space while giving the classic hardscape materials the modern twist they need to complement the home’s architecture. Lawn panels were also added to minimize hardscapes and to connect the sweeping vineyard views to the outdoor living environment.

THE DETAILS

Custom imported travertine was installed in a large format throughout the project, plus a natural thin stone veneer. “We used an array of plants as flowers to add touches of color and create a natural feel,” says Colao. “We incorporated yellow coreopsis, purple allium and Encore azalea shrubs by the pool and spa since views of the adjacent winery were important.”

The landscape team draped plantings over the fencing to add beauty and soften the look of the iron posts PHOTO BY CURT PULLEYBLANK
The landscape team draped plantings over the fencing to add beauty and soften the look of the iron posts

TYPE OF SPACE

This ambitious project entailed adding landscaping luster to a stately Cape Cod-style home in Great Falls, Va.

CLIENT GOALS

The main objective was providing maximum privacy and security, while still creating an elegant entrance. “The client wanted to closely match the architectural style of the home and give a sense of security that wouldn’t feel oppressive as [guests] pulled up to the front of the house,” says Peter.

Techo-Bloc Blu 80 driveway pavers are flanked by hydrangeas. PHOTO BY CURT PULLEYBLANK
Techo-Bloc Blu 80 driveway pavers are flanked by hydrangeas.

DESIGN STRATEGY

To achieve both the elegance and security the client wanted, the Colao & Peter team used complementary materials. “Iron spear-tip finial fencing was added to low stone walls, which we draped in various heights and sizes of plantings, added privacy and beauty by creating buffers, height and interesting layers,” says Colao. “We then incorporated solid stone walls with horizontal wooden entry gates to create a sense of impenetrability, which played beautifully with the home’s elements.”

THE DETAILS

The team incorporated Techo-Bloc (technobloc.com) Blu 80 smooth driveway pavers to mark the driveway and the iron gate, which is clad in natural stained cedar planks. The stone entry walls are built with Chocolate Gray natural stone and capped with a Montauk bluestone. “Limelight hydrangeas soften the hardscapes and bring elegant color, while green velvet boxwoods and white annuals deliver visual interest and subtle color to the overall project design,” says Peter.

Source