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Outside the Lines

California’s near-perfect weather means one thing: alfresco living all year long. Here, the outdoor products, projects and players making a splash this spring and beyond.


“This is their paradise,” Robert Swatt of Swatt Miers Architects says of the Napa home he created for a busy South Bay couple looking for a lifestyle change. “The husband used to ride his bike by the property and fell in love with it, so when it came available they snapped it up.” With vineyard views (it’s just off the famed Silverado Trail) and mature oaks, outdoor living spaces were a must. “We used porcelain inside the house but needed something with more traction for the exterior,” says Swatt, whose team worked with Napa Valley Cast Stone to create custom concrete pavers for the pool terrace. The three glass panels set within the pavers illuminate the wine cellar below, while an ipe wood deck “warms up the palette and relates back to the house,” Swatt says. Dark-brown tiles create a pool surface that perfectly reflects the house and its landscape, designed by Berkeley firm Thuilot Associates.


L.A.-based home stager Meridith Baer may know how to conjure the California lifestyle better than anyone. For a Silicon Valley home by architects Backen, Gillam & Kroeger, Baer enlisted her designer, Sabrina Ferrand, to create a harmonious melding of indoor and outdoor spaces. “My biggest source of inspiration was the architects’ vision. The house is simple yet refined, and invites you to stay a while, reflect, relax and gather with friends,” explains Ferrand. “The exterior was rather masculine with the dark wood and barnlike structures, but the inside was feminine with open spaces and white-painted paneling—I leaned into those feminine aspects to keep it open and flowing,” she adds. “A neutral palette keeps the spaces feeling large and gracious, and the retractable doors bring the whole concept to another level of perfection.” Rustic elements combine with elegant white upholstery seating in the many sun-dappled lounging and dining areas that surround the home.  


Even though California has received a lot of rain lately, staying mindful of future droughts is important. Can you suggest some landscaping options?

“Many of my clients think drought-tolerant plants only include succulents. But there are a variety of elegant, environmentally friendly choices that can be beautifully incorporated into any garden. For example, clipped rosemary is drought-tolerant and makes a delicious fresh contribution to home-cooked meals. Mass plantings of lavender not only look lovely, but smell divine. Olive trees and little ollie shrubs thrive in full sun. Outdoor cabanas and pergolas can be wrapped in climbing roses and wisteria vine, providing beauty and shade without draining the water budget. The choices are endless in creating an outdoor retreat that agrees with Mother Nature.” Teryl Ciarlo, founder, Teryl Designs, Los Angeles

Teryl Ciarlo photo by Cindy Airey

“It had to be compelling because you look out onto it from every room,” says L.A.-based designer Trip Haenisch of the backyard he created for an L-shaped midcentury home in the Trousdale Estates neighborhood of Beverly Hills. Glass doors open onto a grassy expanse, where three luxuriously large daybeds adjoin the pool area, with its tall fireplace flanked by lounging and dining pavilions. “The fun of Southern California living is the blur between inside and outside,” he adds. Haenisch, whose clients include Courteney Cox and Hank Azaria, wanted an uncluttered look with boldly scaled furnishings. Custom pieces done with Sunbrella fabrics in a limited palette of beige and black give the garden a tailored feel, and belie the fact that it can comfortably hold 300 guests. “It came out very sexy,” Haenisch says happily. “It’s as visually interesting during the day as it is with the fire going at night.”


San Francisco-based brother-sister team Aaron and Miranda Jones made waves when they introduced their heated furniture line, Galanter & Jones, in 2012. Since then, they’ve released five midcentury-inspired pieces and in May will release a streamlined bench that seats three. Available in five shades (orange, charcoal, ocean, bone and arctic white), this innovative patio addition will be a warm welcome for those cool California evenings. Price upon request, at Casa Perfect, L.A. and The Future Perfect, San Francisco



What are some outdoor living must-haves on your radar right now? 

“This season, these three items top the list. First up, fire tables provide ambient light and create warmth on cool evenings. They’re great atmosphere-setters and add some sparkle to the patio at night. Oriflamme’s hammered copper version is one of my favorites. Cantilever umbrellas are perfect for day. There are some wonderful ones by Treasure Garden and Galtech that block the sun without obstructing views, incorporate color and help define the space. Lastly, curved sectionals, like Patio Republic’s Aspen Curve sofa, help to create a conversation area and break up squared-off spaces.” Thomas Ziska, designer, Greathouse, San Diego


Designed by Lee Mindel of SheltonMindel and inspired by organic modernist Alvar Aalto, Sutherland’s Continuous Line collection is a minimalist’s dream. Comprised of a teak lounge chair and line chaise, the pieces, which are available in both natural and weathered stains, will look at home in everything from a midcentury manse to a contemporary abode. Price upon request, Laguna Niguel, L.A., and San Francisco

For its first fully upholstered collection, Dedon tapped Italian designer Lorenza Bozzoli to create a modular seating system offering flexibility at its finest. Consisting of square and rectangular modules, a triangular side table, and a variety of cushions and backrests, BRIXX presents limitless opportunities for constructing geometrical seating arrangements. Adding to its versatility, the water-repellant fabric comes in two colors or a graphic mix of both. From $2,680, West Hollywood


A collaboration between Brown Jordan Outdoor Kitchens, Dekton and designer-architect Daniel Germani has yielded the notably stylish ASA-D2, a contemporary, freestanding outdoor kitchen that looks like it’s waiting to be let inside. “As the demand for outdoor living increases, homeowners expect a heightened level of design reflecting the same level of finish found indoors,” says the Buenos Aires-born Germani. Featuring 360-degree functionality, the ASA-D2 is available in four colors: Aura (mimics Calcutta marble), Trilium (suggesting oxidized steel), Spectra (luminous black) and Halo (glossy white). With curves and colors like these, you may never cook inside again. $33,000, 203.626.5625,