Whether by a firepit, pool, or underneath a cabana, these West Coast yards can be enjoyed year-round
Photo: Haris Kenjar
With its dry heat and dependable sunshine, it’s safe to say that Los Angeles is the world capital of indoor-outdoor living. From pool parties during the day to lounging fireside through cool nights, entertaining outside is a casual affair around the clock in the coastal city. Given the prominence of outdoor living in the day-to-day of Los Angelenos, personalizing the exterior of a home is just as important as personalizing its interior. Below, we round up some of the most fabulous LA outdoor spaces ever featured in AD.
A Mother and Son–Designed Laurel Canyon Wonder
Although many homeowners become loyal to the creative vision of their designer, Brandon Creed is a particularly special case. That’s because the Full Stop Management cofounder—who manages a prolific list of musical stars including Troye Sivan, Mark Ronson, and Lizzo—can rely upon the aesthetic fusion of minds he enjoys with his mother, decorator Shari Creed, of Studio Creed.
Both mother and son wanted the space to ooze personality. This is evident throughout, from the unfinished ’90s guesthouse they dubbed the “chalet,” which became Brandon’s serene Venetian plaster–clad primary suite and deck, to the vast outdoor space. The pool area received major upgrades, such as an added vibrant outdoor bar and pizza oven, while elsewhere on the property one can find firepits and a plentiful vegetable garden. —Kathryn Romeyn
One Well-Accessorized Malibu Backyard
As Melissa Akkaway will tell you, every accessory tells a story—and that’s as true for an outfit as it is for a home. Akkaway should know: As the resident tastemaker behind The Particulars, an online fashion platform, she’s advised readers for years on how to find their personal style. And after commissioning a new Malibu house for her family of four with the help of architects Marmol Radziner and decorator Redmond Aldrich, she’s well-versed in how accessorizing fits into a residence, too. Throughout the 7,600-square-foot abode, which manages to pack a powerful decorative punch even within a full-throated architectural vision, memories weave in and out.
Outside, a Californian oasis awaits. There’s a skate ramp for the Akkaways’ children (and surfer father, if the mood strikes); a victory garden sprouting tomatoes, cucumbers, and bok choy; and an olive grove that hosts an alfresco dining area accessible from the indoor kitchen. “You really can just open it up in the benign climate of Malibu, and live this very indoor-outdoor experience,” says Ron Radziner, a principal at the namesake firm. And the beach is less than 10 minutes away on foot. —Lila Allen
Where Mountain Views Dominate, on the Outskirts of LA
It was the soothing, monumental landscape that ultimately swayed Whitney Cummings to buy her home just outside L.A. “I spent a lot of my childhood in Virginia and West Virginia, where the medicine is the mountain,” recalls the comedian and actor, whose many talents include writing, directing, producing, and podcasting. “I wasn’t anxious or stressed when I was there, and I always had perspective. I want to be in the middle of nowhere.”
As she kept encountering the work of AD100 designer Jake Arnold, she grew more riveted by his aesthetic with each space she saw. Dan Levy, of Schitt’s Creek fame, connected the two, and Cummings and Arnold immediately hit it off. Soon, Arnold was busy transforming what he describes as Cummings’s faux Tuscan villa into a Santa Fe-meets-monastery-inspired abode, layered with plenty of warmth and texture. Many of the changes Arnold and Cummings made were in service of the mountain views—as Cummings put it, “You can’t compete with Mother Nature.” –Alia Akkam
An Architectural Marvel, Embedded in the Landscape
Before Joachim Rønning’s film Kon-Tiki was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award, before he directed the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean, even before he married the activist Amanda Hearst, the Norwegian-born director had set his sights on a very different career path. “I was in my late teens when I first came across John Lautner’s work in a coffee table book and it completely fascinated me,” Rønning says. “In fact I was so taken by his designs that before I was bitten by the movie bug, I was thinking of becoming an architect.” It would take a few more decades before Rønning and his wife would come across Lautner’s work again, but this time, it would be to buy a home the influential architect had designed.
When Rønning and Hearst Rønning purchased the property, the stylish duo tapped architect and interior designer Clive Wilkinson to help bring their new home back to its former glory…When renovating the swimming pool, the homeowners and architect meticulously researched its original design. The result is a mosaic-tiled swimming pool that feels congruent with the rest of the home. The lip at the far end of the pool was a design solution that Lautner implemented in 1961 so that the cantilevered pool wouldn’t run over the property line. —Nick Mafi
Sunset Views in Silver Lake
Novelist and television writer Patrick Somerville and his wife, Alexis, had resisted the idea of calling Los Angeles home. For nearly a decade, they kept extending the lease of their Silver Lake rental, thinking that someday soon they’d move back to the Midwest, where they’re both from, and raise their three children there. But when Somerville’s miniseries Station Eleven got picked up by HBO Max (it’s an eerily prescient postapocalyptic saga that struck a chord with viewers), and his plans to start a production company began to materialize, the couple realized it was time to put down roots in Southern California.
They loved Silver Lake’s laid-back, family-friendly vibe, so they made an offer on a 1920s hillside property with attractive Tudor lines and a leafy backyard whose views stretched all the way to the Hollywood sign. But there was a catch: It needed a complete overhaul. Realizing they were in over their heads, they called their good friend Meghan Eisenberg, an interior designer who’d worked at Joan Behnke & Associates and had just opened her own studio. Eisenberg helped them find an architect, Jeff Troyer, who proceeded to gut the property. Now, those delightful Hollywood sign views can be enjoyed from the pool deck, adjacent grassy lawn, and the upstairs balconies, too. —Paolo Singer
Seamless Hilltop Indoor-Outdoor Living
Barbara Bestor knows her way around a historic California property. Over the years, the principal and founder of Los Angeles–based AD100 firm Bestor Architecture has been the mastermind responsible for restorations and sensitive additions to 20th-century gems such as John Lautner’s 1956 Silvertop—a feat of engineering in Silver Lake known for its UFO-like concrete roof—and Rudolph Schindler’s 1946 Roth Residence, where she renovated the carport. So perhaps it wasn’t such a surprise when Bill Macomber and Annie Weisman Macomber—he’s a producer at Fancy Film; she’s a writer and producer of shows like Desperate Housewives and Physical—called to say they had purchased and renovated Raphael Soriano’s 1936 Lipetz House, but they needed more space.
As California architects have long understood, the best room in a house can be outside. And that emphasis on indoor-outdoor living was instrumental to this home, where decks are installed on the front and back, the living room is doubled in the pool area, and glass walls can open up to allow easy movement between in and out. “The house feels porous in the best way,” Weisman Macomber says. “There’s little separation between inside and out.” —Hannah Martin
A Dining Cabana in Santa Monica
Not even a modern California retreat can conceal the Midwestern roots of Kathy Taslitz, an interior designer and artist. When describing her and husband Matt Grode’s dream home—that is, one that could be comfortably shared with family and friends, the Chicago-raised decorator relies on one of the heartland’s greatest cinematic scenes, quoting Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams: “This was one of those, ‘If you build it, they will come’ moments.”
While the palette was kept intentionally neutral indoors, a rainbow of colors awaits beyond the expansive retractable doors—a signature Backen element employed in the living room and the upstairs sitting room to foster indoor-outdoor living. “Having lived in Chicago most of my life, there’s nothing that makes me happier than being able to open those doors and bring the outside in,” Taslitz adds. —Mel Studach