When you live in California, an inspiring outdoor space is just as important as good interiors, but interior designer Jessie Lane found herself faced with a somewhat awkward backyard to her Spanish-style Los Angeles home.
'The lot is a strange shape and the former pool followed the lines of the lot,' Jessie explains. 'It was unnecessarily large with little hang-out space around it, but we knew there was great potential hiding beneath the awkward layout.'
Jessie's vision for the space included re-sizing and re-shaping the pool and adding new features that would make the backyard the perfect place to entertain friends. 'We wanted a backyard that reflected our love for gathering friends together,' Jessie tells us, 'and we dreamed of a space that tricked you into believing you were on vacation somewhere across the globe.' Well, consider us fooled.
Defining the style
Given the nature of her Spanish-style home, a Mediterranean-inspired backyard might seem like an easy decision, but designer Jessie Lane looked beyond Spanish influences in designing her outdoor space. 'I took my inspiration from Morocco, Greece, and Spain,' she explains. 'Through various interior and exterior renovations, we imbued the house with a modern Spanish vibe, and we knew continuing that aesthetic in the outdoor space was just what the design doctor ordered.'
By completely re-landscaping the space, it allowed for more of these influences to be introduced across new features, each zoning the backyard into spaces to enjoy the Californian sun during the day and entertain at night. 'Not only did we change the size and shape of the pool and hot tub, we added an outdoor kitchen, fireplace, firepit and sauna,' Jessie says.
A taste of Morocco
Jessie's Moroccan oasis is so captivating as an outdoor space as it has a rhythm to it, in no small part down to her use of interesting, textural tiles throughout the space. 'Design is often a winding process,' Jessie says, 'but I started with one of my long-time favorite local shops, Badia Design, which sources an array of jaw-droppingly gorgeous tiles from Morocco.'
'I chose a few patterns that spoke to me and worked with Khalid at Badia to design the wall fountain, as well as the firepit, which is crafted as a fountain, but can double as a fire feature,' Jessie explains. 'These pieces along with the stair mosaics, were crafted by hand in Morocco and shipped here.'
Alongside these imported tiles, Jessie complemented the space with additional square zellige from Zia Tile, while the distinctive white star and cross pool tile is from Fireclay. 'The water in LA is hard, so I recommend using white tiles in pools so that hard-water build-up is less visible,' Jessie advises.
Tiles are also used in an eye-catching gradient across the outdoor kitchen with bar seating – however, this hadn't originally been the plan for the space. 'The gradient design on the bar is one of those happy accidents that can occur on large projects with international shipping,' Jessie says. 'I was torn between using emerald or teal and my subconscious must have chosen for me when I ordered emerald for the fountain and teal for the steps without realizing it. When they arrived I was stunned by their beauty and my humanity! And as Tim Gunn famously says, "Make it work" and that I did!'
To solve this design conundrum, Jessie pulled the color palette together by mixing in-stock teal tiles with the emerald she'd intended, and the result brings an even more interest and depth to this expanse of tiled surface. 'It reminds me to trust my process, be flexible, and to not take myself too seriously,' Jessie says.
The real drama of Jessie's backyard is actually in the outdoor dining area, but only in the impact created through interesting textures and sculptural forms. 'I love drama in design (not in life!) and I wanted to bring that into the lighting and seating,' Jessie says. 'I thought it important to pull in some natural elements with the ratan and playfulness in the mix of mismatched chairs.'
The dining space is finished with an oversized rattan outdoor pendant light and a retractable awning, which provides shelter from the Californian sun so you can take a leisurely lunch in the backyard.
These set of two wicker chairs is a paler take on Jessie's beautifully sculptural dining chairs. Why not mix and match with others to steal her dining table style?
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Hugh is the Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2023.
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