Home Work

By Kathy Epperson
April 2006 Front Porch newspaper www.stapletondenver.com

Adaptation and reinvention are common themes in the business world and guiding forces in entrepreneurship. Stapleton resident Sarah Christian originally developed a successful career in human resources for GTE (now Verizon) in Florida. She and her husband Steve were married thirteen years ago and just six months later moved to Denver for simultaneous midlife career changes. Now a successful landscape architect for over ten years, Sarah runs Urban Gardens from her home office. “We moved to Stapleton in February 2003, just six months after the first residents moved in,” she recounts. “We joke that we live in ‘Old Stapleton’. Stapleton is a good fit for us because, like the former airport, we have reinvented ourselves.”

This process of reinvention started when several reorganization and downsizing efforts in the corporate world forced Sarah to think about alternative career paths. She started by exploring what she loved to do as a child, which was imagining and creating environments. “Next, I tested the waters by taking a course in Landscape Architecture History and found my passion,” she says. “My acceptance into the masters program coincided with an across-the-board early retirement incentive offering. At age 35, I retired from the corporate world and began the path to my second career.”

Sarah received her Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Colorado at Denver and initially began work with the City of Westminster Parks and Recreation. Shortly after her first child was born, she went to work for a small landscape architecture firm doing residential design. She slowly built her own clientele and now, with both children (Lauren, age 9 and Will, age 6) in school during the day, she runs her company full time.

Working on residential projects ranging from historic renovations to new homes with a clean slate, Sarah enjoys developing master plans for her clients that include hardscape and plant design. She loves that each project and client is unique and enjoys using her extensive training and experience to help them create an outdoor space that reflects their tastes and lifestyle. Asked for advice to Stapleton residents with a small yard, Sarah urges careful planning to make the most of that space. “Small gardens can be incredibly intimate; quality materials are more affordable in smaller quantities; and maintenance time is minimized. Every detail is seen closely in a small space and therefore has greater impact. A small space can be made to appear more spacious through the use of design principles and visual techniques that combine to give the illusion of more space.”

Watch for the building of Sarah’s garden design this spring for the Westerly Creek/Stapleton Community Garden, pending approval from DPS.

Kathy Epperson is a Stapleton resident who writes a monthly column about home businesses.