This landscape designer's idea for elevating a string light canopy has created one of the dreamiest backyards I've seen

This enchanting Spanish-inspired backyard is beautifully lit with a twinkling string light canopy

A fairylight canopy over a backyard
(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design Kate Anne Designs)

Inspired by the beauty of traditional Spanish courtyards, this backyard escape is a beautifully rustic design. Terracotta floor tiling underfoot, Boho rattan pendants, and string lights that crisscross back and forth throughout the space help create a Southern California backyard that is perfect for those balmy summer evenings.

Designed by celebrity-loved landscape design firm, Kate Anne Designs, together with her husband, Ryan Gross, this design provides a romantic escape. While the home had several front and side yards, there was no designated backyard before the renovation. Kate and her team brought life to the previously unfinished space and made it a priority to maximize functionality for all of the spaces and create a natural and cohesive feel. 

When designing the project, Kate sought to create 'moments' within the sprawling property, making the yard feel like a whole other space. The end result is a modern spin on a whimsical classic Spanish-style backyard that exudes beauty and charm. 

Creating a moment with outdoor lighting 

A backyard with fairylights

(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design: Kate Anne Designs)

The seating area under a canopy of string lights and rattan lampshades provides a distinct area in the backyard, and come evening time, creates a soft glow over the garden. This modern garden lighting also beautifully illuminates the warmth of the pavingstone flooring. 

'Outdoor lighting makes the space much more inviting and usable.' says Kate. 'We like adding fun rattan lanterns to soften the feel throughout and add a some visual interest to the space.'

Lantern shaped rattan outdoor chandelier
Get the look

Lantern shaped rattan outdoor chandelier

These modern rattan backyard lights are perfect if you're looking to recreate the boho backyard look. Hung from a tree or dangling elegantly over a patio from a veranda, they are a great addition to any sized backyard. They're waterproof too, meaning they can withstand the elements.

A Mediterranean-inspired patio 

A backyard with terracotta floor

(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design: Kate Anne Designs)

Another important element of the backyard is the rustic red pavingstone patio idea that evokes baked terracotta tiles in sun-soaked Spain. Kate Anne used Olsen pavingstone and Roman-inspired cobblestone to complement the rustic Spanish theme and reclaimed brick (which was installed on its skinny side) to create a contemporary and custom look.

'The homeowner came up with the great idea of incorporating bricks into the design,' explains Kate. 

'We took their direction and decided to use reclaimed bricks in a herringbone pattern set on edge to give an old-world feel with an elevated twist. You’ll notice some of the bricks have old paint patterns from their prior locations, which adds a fun artistic element to the scene and takes it away from being monotone.' 

A space for entertaining 

A backyard with a firepit

(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design: Kate Anne Designs)

The firepit adds a focal point to the main seating area, and coupled with the delicate lighting encourages people to sit out around the fire past dusk.

This is just one of the two sitting areas in the backyard, both areas having their own firepit. 'It's important to always have good space planning so as to create multiple ‘rooms’ or ‘moments’ within the yard.'

'The homeowner wanted to create an open, multi-room space for backyard entertaining so that several conversations could be occurring at the same time throughout the property.'

Creating shelter

A backyard with a potted olive tree

(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design: Kate Anne Designs)

Kate and her team used slide-on wire shades from Sunbrella over the dining areas, which was a perfect solution for privacy and shade, and kept with the romantic yet relaxed “permanent vacation” feel that they wanted to create.

Curating a planting scheme 

A backyard with two large plant pots

(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design: Kate Anne Designs)

The outdoor space is characterized by large planters that are reminiscent of great Roman-style vases or urns. On the perimeter of the backyard, charcoal gravel chippings created a jet black coloring on the ground.

'We contrasted the red brick with charcoal gravel for the planters,' she explains. 'We like to temper the warmth with cool tones. While designing, I like to select just a few contrasting colors and then continuously repeat them. I feel this brings refinement to a natural setting.  By not using too many different contrasting colors, it invites a more relaxing feel and allows the plantings to be the star of the show.' 

In terms of the greenery, Kate was specific about the type of plants used also to ensure a limited color palette, while selecting the best trees for pots for this largely container-based garden. 'We used a lot of Boxwood, Westringias and Olives to give a blend of blue-greens, yellow-greens and greys.'

Backyard fairylights hanging from a tree over the garden path

(Image credit: Christian DuRocher. Design: Kate Anne Designs)
Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.