Spotlight on a designer: Getting to know Dan Houchard, from A to Z
Recognized throughout the city for his turnkey service, his elegant garden compositions and his unparalleled creativity, Dan Houchard’s landscaping projects personify a timeless style, from classic to contemporary. He and his team at From the Ground Up skillfully enhance both the architecture of a home and the overall setting of a property with eye-catching gardens and courtyards that instantly transport you with their undeniable beauty.
If you visited the 2021 Kips Bay Decorator Show House in Dallas last fall, you saw his work first: Dan’s impeccable designs adorned the yard and gardens and set the stage for the rest of the home with breathtaking classic vignettes.
We caught up with Dan, owner and lead designer, to learn more about his work, his background and how he works with his clients to create the ideal gardens for the place they call home.
What is your design brand?
My projects are designed to achieve a beautiful, coherent transition between interior and exterior spaces; each area should feel like a natural extension of the home’s unique architecture and interiors that the owners have worked to create. The ‘handover’, so to speak, should be seamless to and from an outdoor garden or courtyard to the interior of a house – the two spaces should enhance each other!
I start by studying the design style of a house and work from there to create gardens, courtyards and outdoor living spaces. Although similar plants can be used from one project to another, the design and layout is entirely different – from the selection of materials, the layout of walkways and paths and planters – resulting in a design and a fully customized appearance for each property.
How do you advise your clients, especially new owners?
I encourage my clients to first determine which elements of the current outdoor spaces they will keep and which spaces need to be redesigned. Then we discuss how they want to use their home and what types of gardens and outdoor spaces are most important to them, based on their habits and lifestyle. Are they too busy to spend a lot of time in a garden, but love to entertain? Let’s work on the front garden areas that accentuate the spaces near the front door! Or, maybe they like to entertain and have growing kids – a swimming pool might be a good place to start.
We work to achieve the best combination of style, wants and needs that will truly enhance both their property and their lifestyle.
How did you get started in landscaping?
Growing up, my parents were constantly sketching and planning the outdoor spaces and landscaping of our home, no matter where we lived. When I was in high school, I took over undeveloped areas of the yard and came up with ideas – then loaded up my Mustang with a variety of plants and got to work! I spent my summers in college either redesigning outdoor spaces for family friends and installing the projects myself, or doing internships at various landscaping companies.
It was a natural choice when I chose a landscaping major at Texas A&M. I founded my company in 2005 — and I’ve never looked back!
Favorite aspect to incorporate into landscaping and why?
One water feature really stands out in a unique and one-of-a-kind way (especially in the Texas heat!). From swimming pools to old French limestone fountains, the options are endless and make an incredible centerpiece in a garden.
The sound of water is soothing and really draws people outside, leading them on a path of discovery. I love when a garden doesn’t reveal itself at first glance – a water feature is a great way to create that unexpected moment!
The most important area of a property to work on first?
Always start with the area you will use the most. And — I love to tell my clients — don’t stretch your budget all at once. Choose a space that is most important to you and go through it from start to finish. You will be happier with a fully finished area that you are proud to use and that is as beautiful as it is functional, rather than several partially finished spaces.
The biggest highlight for you this year?
Attending the 2021 Kips Bay Decorator Show House here in Dallas – definitely! The whole experience was not only professionally rewarding, it was also deeply meaningful on a personal level.
Photo courtesy of Costa Christ