Five Under 40: Landscape Designer LeAnn Ostheimer

Colorado Homes & Lifestyles' Class of 2017

The first installment of Colorado Homes & Lifestyles’ Five Under 40 awards in 2014 was a giant success, and the tradition has only gotten stronger with each subsequent year. This year, the mass and magnitude of talent that arrived in Colorado Homes & Lifestyles’ inbox was both exciting and inspiring. 

We called on the 2016 Five Under 40 award winners to help us with the difficult task of selecting five of the finest from a pack of worthy contenders. 

The class of 2017 is shining bright and upping our design quotient inside, outside, and all around the state. 

Here we get to know one of the award recipients, landscape designer LeAnn Ostheimer of Lifescape Colorado, and see some examples of her work.

Portrait: Jennifer Olson
"Everyone has a personal style, whether they know it or not." — LeAnn Ostheimer

You could say that LeAnn Ostheimer is a landscape architect fit for a king.

“I could spend days in the gardens of Versailles,” says the director of design and marketing at Lifescape Colorado and self-described aficionado of formal gardens. “After touring Versailles, I immediately came back and thought, ‘How can I create a mini Versailles for one of my clients?’ It has those elements of clean hedging that I like so much, with the perennials coming up behind the hedges, and it has very strong overall patterns and symmetry, with key features, or jewels, sprinkled throughout.”

But Ostheimer, a Colorado native who studied landscape horticulture and design at Colorado State University, says that no matter the size of a project—whether it’s for a king or someone a little less regal—“the best feeling is knowing you’ve impacted someone else’s life for the better by creating something of beauty they will forever enjoy. Good design is important to us all; being in a well-designed space makes us all feel and perform better. Beautiful spaces, homes and landscapes bring me joy and make me appreciate what I do every day.”

For a Georgian-style home in Cherry Hills Village, Ostheimer married the landscape to the classic architecture, using clean lines, masses of flowers and granite brought in from out of state. She created an English garden, centered around an antique millstone, for the home’s outdoor room. [Photo: Dan DeGrush]

FIRST CLIENTS: CARE BEARS: “I grew up on a dairy and crop farm east of Fort Collins. We grew sugar beets, corn and hay, and sometimes cattle. My sister and I were the sons my father never had. We definitely knew what it was to work out in the fields, and when we weren’t doing that, we were playing and jumping in silage pits. I always loved Legos and creating homes out of mud, including sofas and other furniture, and I would bring my plastic Care Bears outside and play with them in those mud houses.”

ONE STYLE DOESN’T FIT ALL: “Our clients tend to call us not looking for one particular style of landscape design—we don’t get calls just for loose, organic gardens, or very formal gardens, or strictly modern gardens. They look at my diverse residential portfolio and know I can do many styles. That’s what makes my job so interesting, because no two clients want the same thing. Everyone has a personal style, whether they know it or not. Sometimes you have to pull it out of them by looking at the décor in their house or the artwork on their walls. But that’s exciting and challenging to me: Can I take on a project and prove to myself and them that I can achieve their vision?”

[Photo: Dan DeGrush]

GOING FORMAL: “It’s hard to choose a favorite style of landscape design—it’s like choosing your favorite flavor of ice cream—but I have Hamptons or Southern taste. I love a very traditional formal garden. It’s so classical and pretty. I love a clean boxwood hedge that’s properly manicured and layered with a perennial or a shrub, like a hydrangea. But that look is very challenging with the Colorado climate. Even on a recent trip to Oklahoma, it’s like, ‘Dang it—they can grow so many things that we struggle with here because of our extreme freeze-thaw temperatures.’ ”

CRITICAL MASSES: “Over the years, my designs have become cleaner, with fewer types of plants and more of each. I’ve learned to really appreciate the simplicity of masses of one type of plant, each blending in with other masses. I think it makes a bigger statement. Early in my career, I wanted to do lots of different plants, but after observing other great design in my travels, I’ve evolved to where less is more in the horticulture palette, and I minimize the different types of materials I bring in, both in terms of plants and in terms of hardscape.”

For a modern garden in Castle Pines Village, which won a national award, Ostheimer created a simple, angular design, using hardier plants like rudbeckia and white limestone in the walls to match the home. [Photo: Dan DeGrush]

HIGHEST FORM OF FLATTERY: “On a couple of recent projects I did, the clients said that they could not have imagined anything better for themselves and that I really nailed the concept. When they say that they have friends and family over and tell them about the design, and then I get a call from those friends, that is the best.”


Categories: Stylemakers, TTT In the News