Southern Living Idea House: Meet the Landscape Architect
Mt Laurel’s intentionally preserved landscape doesn’t just inspire David Brush’s work as a landscape architect. Its inherent beauty drew him to make his home here as well—which is why being a contributor to the Idea House is so special to him. His firm, David N. Brush Landscape Architecture, has designed an outdoor room that beautifully dovetails with Architect Bill Ingram’s plan, melding perfectly into a shared philosophy: to create designs “informed by history yet relevant in the present.” This month, we sit down with David to learn more about the 2016 Southern Living Idea House and his vision for the site.
ML: First off, you’re a Mt Laurel resident and the landscape architect for the Southern Living Idea House. What does it mean to you to live here and be a major contributor to this project?
David Brush: It’s extra special being a resident and part of this project because it’s of great importance to this community. I’ve lived here for over 13 years, and the essence and quality that is Mt Laurel has informed my design process. To take what’s part of my everyday life and contribute to it is incredibly meaningful.
ML: What’s it been like working with Southern Living? Are you incorporating anything from the Southern Living Plants Collection?
David Brush: It’s been great working with them; the magazine is such a Southern staple. From the get-go, there’s been a lot of excitement in Mt Laurel and the Birmingham community. We have a great team to work with; Bill Ingram has an amazing vision for the project.
One of the assets of working with Southern Living as a landscape architect is the plant collection. I’ve made a conscious effort to incorporate these plants, balancing it with Mt Laurel’s natural plant palate. Our native plants list lends a unique flavor and character to Mt Laurel.
ML: Help us envision the Idea House outdoor area. What will be growing? How do you plan to fuse your design with Mt Laurel’s natural landscape?
David Brush: The site selected by Town Builders, Inc. couldn’t be more perfect. What’s unique to the site is that it’s located across from a wooded area that won’t be available for development. Bill Ingram sited the house to take advantage of those views, and the landscape design takes advantage of those views as well. Being on a corner lot, there’s two fronts. Some of my favorite go-to natural plants—oakleaf hydrangeas, rosemary, St. John’s wort, serviceberries, yellow anise, and magnolias—are planted close to the home on one front. The other front is built around the existing trees, and we left it just that way. Nothing needed to happen; it was already in fantastic shape.
Something that’s important to and common in Mt Laurel is the love of being outdoors. People here love to be outside. So I’ve tried to highlight that with an outdoor room as well.
ML: What was your inspiration for the Idea House’s landscape design?
David Brush: There are two things that are always an inspiration to me with every project and that is the house and the land it’s on. And being in Mt Laurel, the natural plant palate has been of importance to my design as well.
ML: What’s your favorite part of the Idea House?
David Brush: The commanding presence of the lot and how well it was sited. Bill designed the home to look like it was renovated over time, built over generations, so it appears to have a story.
ML: What do you think people will be most excited about?
David Brush: A bunch of talented people were pulled together for this project, which brought a lot of personality to its design. I think people will enjoy the results of there being multiple people involved.
ML: Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about the Idea House?
David Brush: For people local to Birmingham and from across the nation, this is a wonderful opportunity to see the house and the hidden gem that is Mt Laurel. I encourage people to come see it.
To get all the latest details on the 2016 Southern Living Idea House, plus other exciting community events, sign up for the Mt Laurel Newsletter.