Apartment Therapy Complete and Happy Home (2015)
living in your home
Judy Kameon + Erik Otsea
Landscape Designer + Outdoor Furniture Designer
the plant whisperer’s wonderland
Judy Kameon + Erik Otsea
Landscape Designer + Outdoor Furniture Designer
What started as a small slice of land in LA’s Elysian Park neighborhood has evolved, over decades, into the stunning half-acre property you see here. The green thumb behind this lush sanctuary is professional landscape designer Judy Kameon, who purchased adjoining lots through the years and turned them into an extended garden.
At the epicenter of it all is an ancient pepper tree that rivals the size of the house. An oval patio covered in decomposed granite circles its trunk and is the go- to destination for meals of all sizes; the table seats ten easily.
The curving frame of this platform sets the direction for the rest of the garden. Rather than work in rectangles (the norm), every section of the sloping yard reflects an interlocking set of curves. Low-growing greenery lines the major divides, building to larger, more dramatic plants the deeper each bed gets.
The lozenge-shaped pool nestles into the curves perfectly. Note the mottled red and blue tones in the retaining wall and pool bottom, a mirror of the plants that surround them.
If a fluid garden is your goal, think about mimicking the curving flow you see here. It’s a less formal approach that allows you to slowly expand your garden over time.
RAW MATERIALS. The pinkish-red hue of the dividing wall comes from pigmented (not painted) concrete, meaning the color is stirred right into the cement mix. The walls will age gracefully, revealing beautiful new tones the more weathered they get.
MOSAIC MEALS. Great outdoors and easy to clean, this glass-tile-topped table is the homeowners’ own design and comes in fifteen different shades, providing a great opportunity to add color where most folks choose a neutral wood.
the family deck
Susan + Kevin Lennon
Owner, SHOP by h. bleu + Founder, Lennon Design
One of the many great things about living in Southern California? Glorious outdoor spaces like this can be enjoyed year-round. The big backyard deck is a destination for family meals, group homework sessions, and plain old relaxing.
The patio is made from recycled-plastic decking, which lasts longer and requires less upkeep than wood. But the handy homeowners assembled everything else that brings this retreat to life from salvage and flea market finds.
Temporarily covered by a plastic roof (until the homeowners pick a more permanent solution), the L-shaped lounge area is actually just wood shipping pallets topped with cushions and throw pillows. Extra-deep seating invites sitting, reclining, or napping, and small outdoor lights provide a soft glow for after-dinner conversations that stretch into the night.
At the opposite end of the deck, directly outside the kitchen, a long reclaimed-wood table seats a dozen—and when it needs a good cleaning, it’s tough enough to be hosed down. If only all big cleanups were that easy.
COMFY CORNER. Part of the L-shaped nook is currently topped with a few pieces of fiberglass. It allows plenty of light to pass through, so a thick and fragrant vine can continue to grow in the space.
LOOK AT THAT FACE! This heavy-duty cotton duck fabric (originally used to make vintage mail and military bags) not only stands up to wetness, it’s pet-friendly too.
PLANT COVER. Stacked at various heights, an assortment of planters (all old street lampposts that were turned into flowerpots) hide the not-so-pretty underside of the deck’s sitting area.
ALFRESCO DINING. For this large family, having a full kitchen outside the house is an essential pleasure. There’s a large grill, refrigerator, and makeshift sideboard that doubles as a buffet and storage.
the nature observatory
Christopher Coleman + Angel Sanchez
Interior Designer + Fashion Designer
Located a few hours from the craziness of Manhattan, this weekend retreat is surrounded by nature. The screened-in porch overlooks a shallow pond. You can watch fish jumping in the morning, snapping turtles dozing in the afternoon, and dozens of species of birds flitting around at dusk.
With such a thriving ecosystem to preserve, the homeowners were careful to create outdoor spaces for observing but not disrupting the wildlife. To separate the front yard from the wetlands, a mulch path and hand-laid stone wall were put in. But despite the lawn’s many lounge chairs, everyone ends up on the dark, cozy porch.
For an outdoor space, this porch has all the comforts of indoors. A high-backed armchair is upholstered in a furry vintage fabric. To lighten the palette, an animal skin rug was layered in, while pops of red call attention to the window seat.
Bringing inside furniture outdoors makes a very luxe statement. But there are a few rules to follow: select durable fabrics, clean everything frequently, and avoid leaving upholstered pieces in direct sunlight, which fades fabric and disintegrates cushion stuffing.
LEAN INTO IT. Instead of a basic, square-shaped screen porch, this one has a long wall set at a slight angle, which makes the closed-off room feel more open.
the chauffeur’s garden estate
Ruthie Sommers + Luke McDonough
Interior Designer + CEO, AirMedia
daughters Eloise, Bailey, Posey
Tucked behind a row of manicured hedges in LA’s Hancock Park, these elegant outdoor spaces belong to the carriage house of what was once a much larger estate. The home and gardens have long since been separated from their original parent next door, but the overall mood is no less grand. All the outdoor areas are luxurious destinations. But, more than that, they are a boon of extra space for a house that may look palatial but actually has a relatively small footprint for a family of five.
With its perfect symmetry, tall cypress trees, and multiple pavilions, the pool is very old Hollywood, like a scene from a Slim Aarons photograph come to life. However, all that formality doesn’t keep an army of little ones (and a dog who loves to swim) out of this pool.
In the shadiest corner of the property, a brick courtyard is the scene of low-key meals and afternoon naps in the hammock. A hefty marble table might not seem like an obvious choice for outside, but it’s extremely durable—and will outlive typical outdoor furniture. In a truly handy design move, the seat and cushions pop right out of these chairs, so you can store them when they’re not in use.
TWIN PAVILIONS. The pool is flanked by two grand, identically constructed pavilions—one formally decorated, the other (not pictured) more low-key and playful.
ONE LUMP OR TWO? This newly installed, open patio is the perfect scene for kid-friendly, adult-size tea parties with its pale bricks (laid in a formal herringbone pattern), marble-top dining table, and pillow-filled hammock.
OLD STYLE. Nestled right up against the house, the shape of the pool mixes beautifully with the flat, white facade and deep green trees. It feels more like a water feature than a kid’s playground (though technically it’s both).
a sunny scrap of patio
Laura Jay Freedman
Shop Owner, Broken English
Ask apartment dwellers what luxury item is at the top of their wish list for their next home, and nine out of ten people will tell you it’s an outdoor space. Having access to a garden, deck, or even a fire escape with potted plants goes a long way toward your overall happiness.
This small patio is a great example of making the most of what you have. Like many LA homes, it’s perched on the side of a hill; other places crowd it from all sides. But this scrap of concrete has been turned into a lush oasis with minimal effort.
Low-sitting Acapulco chairs and a round metal table set the tone for this retro hangout. Greenery positively explodes over the retaining wall, where low-maintenance plants, including young palm trees that will eventually grow high enough to give the patio more shade and privacy, fill the raised garden. To bring a little bit of that greenery down to eye level, potted plants line the pathway along the side of the house.
Spending any amount of time creating an outdoor space of your own (even if that means a window-box herb garden) will always be worth the effort.
SMALL FOOTPRINTS. The selection of greenery planted here is smart on two fronts: it’s easy to care for, yes, but each plant was also selected for its small trunk and large leaves, which make the garden feel more lush.
FOLLOW THE FOLIAGE. Instead of overcrowding the sitting area, Laura tucked her grill away at the far end of the long walkway next to her house.
the texas-style front porch
ROUND TOP, TEXAS
Paige + Smoot Hull
Bed & Breakfast Owners
son, Pierce + daughters Eisley, Cameron
This idyllic farmhouse is straight out of a movie. Rows of Knock Out Roses and fields of bluebonnets (the state flower of Texas) surround it. The wraparound front porch, rocking chair, and zigzagging strings of globe lights feel like a charming, 1950s version of classic Americana. But the truth is, this home is actually a fairly new construction (built in 1997).
All the hard-sought vintage details (brought back to life by the handy homeowners) establish the old-timey mood. In the front yard, a weathered wood swing hangs from a large live oak tree. The covered porch is laced with scalloped wood beams above and framed by a proper whitewashed railing along the side. And a soft, pale palette gives everything a sun-bleached look.
Sturdy and not precious at all, the lovingly collected furniture—mostly locally sourced antiques—makes perfect sense in a high-traffic, kid-frequented zone like this. A few flour-sack throw pillows keep things cozy during extended games of checkers, and the collection of folding red bistro chairs offers more space for the party to grow as neighbors swing by.
INTO THE FOLD. Every piece of outdoor furniture on this porch collapses and folds, making it easier to stow in the winter months.
GAME NIGHT. Antique carrom boards, like this one from the 1960s, are modern collectibles. Aside from their graphic artistry, they accommodate upward of fifty games, from chess to table shuffleboard.
HOUSEWARMING GIFT. This tree swing has been hanging here since long before the Hulls moved in. The couple fell in love with it immediately, heart-shaped carvings and all.
an alfresco dining spot in the hills
Anne Ziegler + Scott Mason
Trend Forecaster + Entertainment Executive
Cut into the steep hillside of Laurel Canyon, this petite outdoor space feels as though it could just as easily overlook Italy’s Amalfi Coast. The tangle of greenery and winding gravel paths zigzag the property (like the walkways of a small European village), each dead-ending in its own little oasis.
The dining area is an inviting mix of beach-y furniture (a wood-slat table and chairs topped with a canvas umbrella) and simple, sophisticated accents (cashmere blankets, glass lanterns, and a very Mediterranean blue and white tablescape). Above this landing, up a steep set of stairs, there’s a grassy knoll for stargazing; next to it, a vintage military cot, the go- to destination for impromptu naps.
This multilevel property is a work in progress. Landslides (on a small scale) are a frequent occurrence. The new homeowners combated this naturally by embedding large stones into the steep dirt wall and surrounding them with deep-rooted plants to help retain the soil—a very visually pleasing landscaping approach. An herb garden is in the works, but for now, easy-to-care-for potted plants line the side of the house, extending the feeling of a lush green oasis.
ALL WRAPPED UP. Ever the gracious host, Anne thinks of even the smallest details. Affordable cashmere blankets from West Elm are draped over the chairs for the moment the chilly night air sweeps in.
DAY BED. A simple army cot is turned into a far more luxurious destination when topped with a soft, down-filled, linen “throwbed” by Hedgehouse. The look could be very “princess in the pea” if you were to stack multiple beds on top of one another.
the easy english garden
Tim Cuppett + Marco Rini
Architect + Garden Designer
When a Southern architect and an Oxford-trained garden designer plan an outdoor space together, you can count on two things: there will be plenty of room for entertaining and plenty of eye candy to explore. This home’s charm begins at the front gate, where wildflowers line a white picket fence, and an enormous swing hangs from a pecan tree.
In the backyard, symmetrical garden beds are trimmed with manicured boxwood bushes; they contain vegetables, herbs, and flowering accents, including a Peggy Martin climbing rosebush. Tall Japanese blueberry trees provide tons of essential shade.
In the background, the shed holds supplies and keeps the compost station out of sight. A shingle-clad cistern collects rainwater for watering the yard—a system that isn’t expensive to install and will save you tons on water bills. And one of the true (almost forgotten) treats of having a yard: a clothesline hangs just outside the laundry room window.
KNOW YOUR HISTORY. The key to a flourishing garden, according to Marco (the master behind this yard), is listening to longtime residents and finding out what works well. Forcing unlikely-to-succeed plants to grow is fodder for frustration.
the urban jungle
Lulu Powers + Stephen Danelian
The Entertainologist + Founder, MeeLocal
Located right off a busy city street, behind an unassuming front gate, this home is surrounded by so much greenery that the rest of the world seems miles away.
A brick path greets you at the entrance, leading you through the multiple outdoor spaces sprinkled around the property. Rather than forming a straight line from point A to point B, the walkway has a gentle meander to it, which fits right in with the unhurried, “time doesn’t matter here” mood of the whole space. At its end, a little backyard opens onto a small tile patio (just off the master bedroom), a hot tub that doubles as a fountain, and a dramatic striped gazebo for entertaining.
Central to the style here is the multiplicity of plants, both potted and not. Vines have overtaken the walls of the home, while ground cover and colorful planters outline the property and fill the steps. A joyfulness comes from living with all this healthy greenery, and it is important that there is no formality to it. A collection of eclectic and hardy plants in varying shapes and sizes gives off a casualness that is accessible—and easy to duplicate.
ROYAL TENT. This striking sitting area is a glamorous mix of indoor and outdoor furniture, all framed in a boldly striped canvas pavilion with curtain walls.
BRICK-BY-BRICK. To emphasize the subtle twist in this pathway, the center pavers were laid horizontally and framed by three rows of vertically placed bricks.
SUN PATIO. The owners opened up an exterior wall to connect the bedroom to their yard, adding elegant French doors and steps that are now home to dozens of potted plants.