Fountains bring sounds of serenity
Finish off your yard with works of stone
The first thing Linda Bourland asks people looking for a new fountain is, "What do you want it to sound like?"
"I always say we sell sound," Bourland said last week among the tinkling treasures at Serenity Stoneworks on Main Street. "That's what makes a fountain peaceful -- and exciting."
Some fountains have a gentle pouring sound. Others sound like rain.
Often folks want to buy a fountain to mask another sound, such as traffic, Bourland said. It won't really mask it, she explained, but the ear does go first to the closest sound.
Serenity Stoneworks is located in the spacious rear yard of a house built in 1937 by Joe and Edith Macer, who pictured the lower front room as a place of business. Its purple awnings are distinctive on the south end of Main Street. The venue has been rented out to various businesses, but often in the last 10 years the back patio has been used for gatherings such as afternoon teas and showers.
Bourland, a Pleasanton resident, liked fountains and her husband Larry was a sales rep for a fountain company five-and-a-half years ago when she discovered the outdoor site. She immediately envisioned it as a perfect display area for outdoor furnishings.
"We'd saved money to renovate our kitchen," she said. "But my kids were older, and this place happened upon us."
The kitchen project was put on hold, and Linda and Larry moved fountains and statuary onto the premises. For a while she rented the front office space to a guitar studio and later a photographer since all she really needed was the back yard.
Having the array of fountains, statuary and outdoor furniture on display helps customers visualize them in their own home settings. They usually place their orders from the many catalogs, with Linda's guidance.
"We call Linda the 'fountain whisperer,'" McKain said. "She's really excellent at what she does."
Amid the fountains are nestled angels, turtles, benches and a Buddha garden with images ranging from six inches to massive.
Some of the fountains are traditional with three tiers off the ground. A few are wall fountains, and yet others twist and undulate in creative shapes.
"I love the modern style but there is no sound," Bourland said.
Her fountains all come from companies in California that can deliver within four to six weeks. Fountains, statuary and benches are formed in molds made by Italian artisans from the Lucca region. They are poured instate, she said, because otherwise shipping would be prohibitive, and the fountains are hand-finished.
"You can set them up yourself 90% of the time," she said.
Linda's sister Nancy McKain now runs her business, The Bracelet Bar, in the front of the house. To draw Serenity customers in the winter when people aren't focused on their yards, Linda opened Serenity Gifts upstairs.
During the spring, summer and fall, the outdoor premises can be rented for events.
"We've had several weddings," Bourland said. "At one baby shower they floated little rubber ducks in all the fountains."
A 150-year-old pepper tree provides shade and a lovely backdrop to the outdoor setting, which can help people see the possibilities of their own back yards, where a water fountain or other stonework can add up to relaxation and peace: serenity.