Timeless Design

It can be difficult to talk objectively about something that so many people see as subjective. Design, art and beauty fall into that category. We claim that the spaces we design are timeless, not only because of the materials and plants we use, but because of the style we strive for and the thought behind it. Just because we may favor certain elements or tastes does not mean they always have a place in your outdoor space—not all popular designs are timeless. The word ‘timeless’ suggests something that is without beginning or end—it is eternal and everlasting. True beauty isn’t limited to the time period it was created—it transcends style and fads.
Design and materials are the two main components of timeless design that work together in harmony to create something beautiful and lasting. Materials and design need to be chosen with regard and consideration to the history of the space and architecture surrounding the space. Mary Palmer Dargan and Hugh Graham Dargan mention in their book Timeless Landscape Design, “Try not to impose too many ideas on it before you’ve turned to what nature and history have already put there”.
The question that needs to be asked when adhering to a timeless design is not only will this look good in ten years, but will age add to its beauty or detract? The best materials and plants get better with age—manufactured materials on the other hand seldom last long. Natural materials will stand the test of time and will continue to look better. We have taken a very disposable view of our environment and the space we inhabit. Not only is this wasteful and inefficient, but it is unhealthy for our perspective of life. We would rather have instant gratification at a lower price than to spend more and invest in something that generations to come can enjoy. I think our spaces would be far more beautiful if we simply invested our time and money into finding and using materials that have already stood the test of time.
Timeless materials can be easily understood, but timeless design is more difficult to explain. Things can appear “beautiful” without being timeless, although those things will most likely pass with time and if they do, is it worth asking ourselves if they are really “beautiful” in the proper sense of the word. Timeless design is not dramatic and edgy. Mary and Hugh Dargan discuss the elements that make up the art and design principles used to create timeless landscapes. Line, color, form, texture, axial relationships, focalization, light and shadow, symmetry and asymmetry, repetition and rhythm, proportion and scale, reflection as well as knowledge of plant material work together to create a landscape that is timeless and will continue to grow more beautifully with time.
A concern of many homeowners can be cost and by saving money in certain areas of the project, but in hopes of saving some money now, you may sacrifice a long term investment and it may not increase the value of your home at all. If you are not careful, it could potentially decrease the value of your home in the long run. I suggest that you do research on different materials yourself or hire a trusted landscape designer in your area that will guide you through those decisions. Don’t worry too much about spending more up front for certain things—it is a marginal amount when you think about the lasting effect it will have in the future.