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The Great Outdoors

The Golden State’s perfect weather calls for alfresco living spaces as beautiful as their indoor counterparts. here are the projects, products and trends to keep your exteriors looking fresh year-round.

Palm trees and multiple water features lend to a Newport Coast home’s tropical feel.

“It was imposing,” Santa Monica-based architect David Montalba says of his first glimpse of the 1970s Buff & Hensman Malibu house he recently refreshed for New York-based clients. “The landscaping was nonexistent, and we wanted to focus on the transition of inside-outside, so we added warmth with wood and plantings.” The Santa Monica-based architect, known for award-winning retail spaces like The Row in West Hollywood and Citizens of Humanity in Downtown L.A., has a long history of working on significant midcentury homes and is always gentle in his approach. “It’s important to understand why they did what they did and how we can make it work for today.” Now, walnut flooring extends from within the house to the edge of the spa and a raised concrete terrace creates a living space with custom-designed loungers. Working with landscape architecture firm Venice Studio (, Montalba created a space that is focused and low-maintenance. “We gave them very specific parameters—even the planters to plant in—and they shared our calculated approach,” he adds. “We wanted to embrace the natural landscape, but the wood helps too—it doesn’t always have to be plants, just something that feels more natural.” 2525 Michigan Ave., Building T4, Santa Monica, 310.828.1100

Award-winning landscape designer and co-owner of Rolling Greens nursery in L.A., Greg Salmeri believes in using low-water plants that suit California’s dry climate.
“People are finally starting to accept that palm trees, lush big plants and green lawns are not in line with California’s desert environment. For drought-friendly landscaping, everyone loves succulents, but there are plenty of other options out there. Rosemary and scented geraniums are very fragrant and have beautiful shape and form; Cordyline is a gorgeous plant with lots of color; arbutus and olive trees are very low water; and grasses in reds, pinks, whites and yellow will add color and texture to the garden without damaging the ecosystem.” 7505 Beverly Blvd., L.A., 323.934.4500

With Gloster’s new Voyager LED lantern, the joy is in the journey. Part of the Voyager outdoor furniture collection, which was inspired by travel-ready campaign furnishings, the rechargeable, remote-controlled lantern features a light teak frame and carrying handle, creating stylish illumination wherever you need it. $620, 471 N. Robertson Blvd., West Hollywood, 310.274.2461


Indoors or out, a bar cart’s ability to seamlessly switch from sideboard to cocktail station makes it an essential. Room & Board’s stylish Crescent bar cart rolls the same way, with a handcrafted powder-coated aluminum finish and modern lines, nodding to the ’60s-era trend. Made by a family-owned company in Minnesota, it’s available in a variety of finishes as well as an extra-long version (shown here), making it a convenient piece of alfresco entertaining decor. From $899, 685 Seventh St., San Francisco, 415.252.9280


Designed by Sebastian Herkner, Dedon’s latest, the MBrace chair, embraces a new silhouette with a wide back, which delivers comfort, bold style, a teak frame and mesh-like fibers synonymous with the brand. Lounge chair from $2,125, rocking chair from $2,740, wing chair from $2,625, Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., Ste. B188, L.A., 310.657.0800


For Perennials’ latest rug collection, the luxury outdoor fabric manufacturer took a walk on the artistic side. Conceived by Porter Teleo, a Kansas City-based design team known for its fine art-inspired fabrics and wallpaper, the handmade, high-performance Tibetan knot rugs come in seven imaginative patterns and are completely customizable. Price upon request, Sutherland and Perennials Studio, 101 Henry Adams St., Ste. 272, San Francisco, 415.621.0911


Made from concrete, stainless steel, marine-grade rope and lava rock, Brown Jordan’s Loop fire pit will lend a chic, nautical feel to the patio on chilly evenings. Optional add-ons, including a sleek glass screen and matching drum stools, ensure the setup is as sophisticated as it is functional. From $4,796, 3641 Holdrege Ave., Ste. B, L.A., 888.588.4447


With an office in L.A., a home situated on a 15-acre avocado and citrus ranch in Fillmore and countless exterior projects under her belt, interior designer Sarah Walker truly understands what every outdoor space needs: great lighting.
“With timer-equipped LED exterior candles, outdoor LED lamps and easy-to-install landscape lighting, there’s no excuse to not have attractive, sufficient light outside. Exterior spaces should be extensions of your interior, so you need to be able to easily transition between the two. If you need to spend time lighting candles or only have a harsh overhead light source, you’ll rarely migrate to the patio in the evening hours. Set it up so you can spend time outside on a whim, rather than it being an effort every time.” 323.793.5000


“It is based on a friend’s stacked bangles,” says L.A.-based Adam Hunter of the Megan side table, a standout piece from Outside, his recently launched debut outdoor furniture collection. Sustainable Burmese teak in three finishes—natural, charred and AG raw silver—are separated by turned acrylic and stainless steel spacers. $6,000, 8342 ½ Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323.272.3232


Rows of striped umbrellas often found at swanky beach clubs during the 1960s served as the inspiration for these vibrant outdoor pillows from Serena & Lily. Made of canvas and available in two styles—square and lumbar—the throw pillows will instantly amp up any poolside chaise. From $58, 3457 Sacramento St., San Francisco, 415.580.7078


Freshen up your poolside with the Sparta lounge by Skyline Design North America. Suited to accommodate up to eight comfortably, the Sparta’s ample cushions, Sunbrella fabric and curved canopy design will ensure you have it made in the shade. From $3,982, Greathouse, 9050 Kenamar Drive, San Diego, 858.271.9400


It’s not every day that a landscape architect comes across an expansive 2,700-square-foot yard in the middle of a city. So when Ive Haugeland of Sausalito-based Shades of Green Landscape Architecture was brought in by developers Troon Pacific to create the outdoor spaces for a newly remodeled home in San Francisco’s tony Pacific Heights neighborhood, she jumped at the chance to work on the luxury project. “These developers have great taste, and they don’t skimp on anything,” she says. Grading constraints on the LEED Platinum mansion meant building an entire floor underneath the house to get a flush indoor-outdoor living situation. “It looked like a giant Jenga set when the wood support structure went up,” Haugeland says with a laugh. The long, narrow yard proved the perfect space for a custom, infinity-edge lap pool—framed on one side by a covered patio; on the other is permeable pavement dotted with hernaria creepers (commonly referred to as “green carpet”) to allow the movement of rainwater through the surface. Due to a patchwork of greenery and concrete pavers by SoCal-based Concrete Collaborative (, the yard has a graphic quality when viewed from above. “We were playing with black-and-white colors, with a lot of natural wood to warm the space up,” she says. A dual-sided fireplace, clad in the same concrete paving, provides a window to the outdoor shower and sauna area behind. 1306 Bridgeway, Sausalito, 415.332.1485

When Boost Mobile founder and 360fly CEO Peter Adderton and his wife, Jaye, purchased an ornate home in Newport Coast’s Pelican Crest community, they knew they needed major help transforming it into the clean-lined paradise they desired. Enter: Lake Forest-based landscape construction firm Geoscape.
“When I met Jaye and Peter, it was clear they wanted a completely different look than the existing home they just bought,” says Geoscape founder and President John Shippy. “It was a custom French Provincial estate with Old World architecture, and the Addertons wanted a more modern Indonesian look and feel.” Shippy set out to redesign the exterior—replacing all the scrolls and scallops with a clean, linear look in finishes like smooth plaster, tempered glass and bush hammered limestone—and incorporated water features resembling those found at properties in Peter’s homeland of Australia, and in Indonesia, one of the couple’s favorite vacation spots. The project’s pièce de résistance is a multilevel, illuminated water feature that surrounds a limestone and ipe hardwood walkway flanked by palms. The fountains even sport LED lights with multiple color options. “The most spectacular thing about it is that it’s totally unexpected,” says Shippy. “When you open the entry gate to get to the front door, you are immediately immersed into this modern Balinese environment.” 20372 Hermana Circle, Lake Forest, 949.916.4545


For years, San Francisco-based designer Tina Frey has wowed the design world with her luminous resin serveware in fluid, organic forms and an assortment of saturated hues. For her spring 2016 collection, Frey has taken a shine to copper. Perfect for layering with the line’s crisp-white trays and bowls, the rich, rosy serving pieces will add a touch of earthy glamour to alfresco entertaining all year long. From $64, 503found, 503 31st St., Newport Beach, 949.877.0147


Terra Ferma Landscapes owner Brian Koch—also a licensed landscape architect and contractor—shares his outdoor kitchen essentials.
“We primarily use Lynx outdoor kitchen appliances and products. Their designs are sleek and fitting for all aesthetics. Their built-in LED lights are great, and the lighted dash shows well in the evening. By adding cool touches like installed trash and recycle receptacles, clutter and trash can be put away easily. In addition, we have been building many drop-in ‘coolers’ for drinks and ice—basically sinks without the faucets—that act as a self-serve beverage stop for entertaining.” 139 Mitchell Ave., Ste. 220, S. San Francisco, 650.952.5659


Transport your backyard dinner party to Napoli with Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet’s Artisan Fire Pizza Oven. The stainless steel hearth makes the flavor of Old World pies simple to achieve with an easy-to-regulate gas-fueled flame that mimics the cooking method and heat of a wood-fire oven. Plus, with just a 45-minute preheat time, you’ll have perfect alfresco pizzas in a pinch. $6,895, Pirch, 101 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale, 818.743.9999


Culver City-based Inner Gardens is much more thana nursery. Besides offering full-service landscape andevent design and myriad foliage options, the selectionof planters is second to none. Rare midcentury-modernpieces by Swiss architect Willy Guhl—including theDiablo, Hourglass and Handkerchief styles seen below (from $1,850)—will patina beautifully and add a timeless sculptural element. 5838 Perry Drive, Culver City, 310.838.8378


Bringing her signature elegant style outdoors, San Francisco-based designer Suzanne Tucker has recently launched the Riviera Collection—a Santa Barbara-inspired line of teak and handwoven easy-care resin wicker outdoor furniture on powder-coated aluminum frames—for Michael Taylor Designs. Standout pieces include the perfectly proportioned dining chair and sun chaise. To the trade only, 135 Rhode Island St., San Francisco, 415.934.9400 

With a fireplace, outdoor shower, sauna, kitchen and living area, this Pacific Heights yard takes enjoying the outdoors to another level.