Do you recognize this truly grand staircase?
Hint: You find it in California.
What makes an “ordinary” house into an estate? One element is site design focused on giving the visitor a grand, memorable experience. How? It includes elements such as walkways with beautiful plantings alongside them, look-out terraces and,or balconies as well as grand staircases.
Sadly, building codes would make this staircase impossible to build legally and/or with a permit today. The railing height and the distances between these beautiful limestone balusters are non-compliant, for example.
However, perhaps we should take the goal of experiencing ourselves as we travel along these landscaping features more seriously. It starts with careful appreciation of your property. So often I see money being spent on large / expensive homes without such understanding- and it shows. Walkways are treated as a mere utility – a way of getting from point A to point B, for example. Why not take a little extra time and incorporate the quality of the estates we visit and so admire as tourist.
Here is the answer to my question: You are looking at the entrance to the famous pool at the Hearst Castle in San Simeon, CA.
Randolph Hearst built and rebuilt the pool and surrounding areas numerous times until he was finally satisfied with this layout. Hearst wanted to give his guests “experiences” which did not start with a certain activity but instead were to be part of all of his guests moving around on his grand estate. Even as a visitor today you get that feeling.
Perhaps we can all think about the experience of walking along inside hallways and exterior walkways in and around our own homes and design them so give us “memorable experiences”…..