Design Process


Design Process

Practice safe design: Use a concept.
~Petrula Vrontikis

Lisa balances the details of a vision with the practicalities of a budget.  At BayLeaf Studio we work closely with contractors to inform the design and materials selection.  We respect the knowledge of tradespeople and invite their input and expertise.  We enjoy a collaborative effort and are comfortable sitting at a round table of mutual respect.  We honor direct, open and honest communication that makes ease of implementation the common goal for everyone involved.

Using tools of sacred geometry, color theory and archetypal metaphors, BayLeaf Studio creates designs that work on many levels.  The power of intention can be combined with geometrical shapes to create focal points that bring meaning, purpose and sacredness.  They make people feel good in a space.  Color is used to amplify the desired mood.  The 7 landscape archetypes identified by Julie Messervy (The Inward Garden) inform the three-dimensional schematic design conversations. These give language to subconscious spatial feelings we all have yet aren’t easy to verbalize.  This approach sparks dialogues to determine how inward or outward focused the spaces need to be to achieve a psychological and spiritual match for each client in their space.

Your design project may include one or more of the following steps.  With smaller projects some steps may be combined.


An on-site consultation may be all you need to solve a problem, generate ideas or understand your options.  It may also be the first step, and is a prerequisite, for generating a proposal for design work.  We notice what the land has to say.  We listen for aspirations and intentions.  We ask you appropriate questions and give you valuable advice and ideas.


The proposal serves as our contract.  We address site issues, both seen and unseen.  We clearly articulate the program, defining the problems to be solved and the intended outcomes desired.  We create a proposal that reflects our understandings, describes the process, and defines the project fees and schedule.

Site Analysis

This work includes gathering all available existing plans and documents to create a site analysis plan.  While the program is defined and clarified, we analyze your site to reveal the way things currently work, or don’t work, on the site.  This may include physical aspects such as circulation patterns, topography, micro climates and plant material; cultural aspects such as how the site is used, privacy issues and aesthetics; and legal aspects such as property lines, zoning or wetland issues.  It may also include metaphysical and energetic issues, such as electromagnetic energy, underground water flow, or detrimental chi flow.  Lisa collaborates with other professionals such as dowsers, Feng Shui practitioners, architects and surveyors to augment the available knowledge to create a unique Site Analysis that will inform the design process.

Schematic Plan / Master Plan

The first design phase creates an overall concept for how the site will be laid out.  If we are addressing an entire property, we call it a Master Plan which will guide all future design.  In this phase, we create a plan that addresses all the areas and how they will fit together.  The work includes preliminary design sketches for review and comment, coordination meetings, and a final annotated and rendered plan.  The Master Plan illustrates the scale and relationship of the project components, resolving issues in a flowing design that connects the site elements and meets the project objectives.

Design Development / Permitting

Permitting, if required, begins during the Master Plan phase and continues during Design Development.  Design Development includes refining the design, determining some of the major materials, general layout requirements, general grading strategy and basic details.  This allows us to create a more detailed estimate of probable costs, often working with a contractor.

Construction Documents

This phase involves creating a highly detailed set of construction drawings (plans) and notes (specifications) suitable for getting one or more contractor bids to construct the work. During Construction Documents we develop the plans for construction, including layout and materials, grading and drainage, planting, details and specifications.  These plans are the working drawings that finalize the details of design and tell the contractor what is expected, helping to avoid misunderstandings, surprises and disagreements during construction. 

Construction Observation

Construction Observation includes attending construction meetings, documenting meeting notes, plant tagging and submittal review, answering questions and overseeing the construction to solve the problems that inevitably arise.  This is a critical time in the success of the project, and it is important to give sufficient observation attention during construction to avoid costly, or permanent, mistakes.

Design is the application of intent – the opposite of happenstance, and an antidote to accident.
~Robert L. Peters