Stylemaker Ellen Marie Bennett and Casey Caplowe Perfectly Blend Styles in Their LA Home and Garden
The creative couple focuses their ample energy and bounty of ideas on their Los Angeles oasis.
The lush hillside garden at Ellen Marie Bennett and Casey Caplowe's Los Angeles home is the direct result of a few minor catastrophes. "There was a wall that collapsed after a heavy rain. Oliver, our 200-pound pet pig, ate all of the plants on three separate occasions," says Ellen, the founder and chief executive officer of Hedley & Bennett, an apron and kitchen-wear company. "Today, you see this epic garden. But it has had its challenges," she says. "It has been an evolution. That's part of the fun."
Collaborating on the house and garden—and rolling with the punches as they come—has been a running thread in the couple's relationship. Casey was in the early stages of designing the house when he met Ellen seven years ago; before long they were swapping design ideas and digging holes in the garden together. "Casey is very calm and collected," Ellen says. "But whenever I get involved, someone else has to hold the wheel tightly. I'm full-on."
Today, their modern home reflects both of those impulses. Casey, cofounder and chief creative officer of the digital magazine Good, is responsible for the highly organized spaces, white oak floors, and interior barn doors that slide open and closed to reconfigure their living space as needed. Ellen, a maximalist who appreciates pizzazz, takes credit for the exuberant use of color—coral, Kelly green, sky blue. Add in some clean-lined furniture, and the result is warm and balanced, fun and practical.
Buying a Bertazzoni range in yellow started a domino effect of using bright colors. "One thing led to the next," Ellen says. Taxicab yellow and sky blue make a sleek kitchen feel playful. The couple covered a kitchen wall with chalkboard paint for grocery lists; tight on storage, they also hang pots on that wall in a graphic display.
Large windows and potted ficus frame the view of the trees. A well-worn Moroccan rug in indigo grounds the room.
The small den-guest room is sparsely furnished, but a patchwork rug and a rainbow of books keep it lively. "I am staunchly for color-coding books," Ellen says.
To help marry their aesthetics outdoors, the couple brought in a third collaborator: Los Angeles garden designer Ivette Soler. "We roped Ivette into the madness," Ellen says. Working with Casey's initial design—which involved carving the formerly weedy slope into a series of flat spaces for a chicken coop, a bocce court, and an entertaining area set off by concrete walls—Soler advised on materials and came up with a planting plan. The couple took it from there.
"Ivette gave us a list of the plants we needed, but we'd go rogue and buy even more," Ellen says. They wound up replanting the garden several times after their pig tore through it, eventually pivoting last year to fewer edibles and more sturdy California natives. ("Oliver seems to respect the garden now," Soler says.)
Soler chose drought-resistant plants that would play off the hard edges of the home. The tall Mexican weeping bamboo along a fence increases privacy, and its green foliage is a foil for colorful plants like purple verbena.
Like the interior, the yard feels highly organized (thanks to Casey), but it's also a little wild (that's all Ellen). "Our styles blend well," Ellen says, "like pouring coffee into milk. They just swirl together."
Casey, who studied urban planning, decided to carve the hillside garden into distinct zones for entertaining, lounging, and more. Ivette suggested the airy grasses and flowering perennials. "Planting too much structure around a modern house is a redundancy," Soler says. A matching pair of potted succulents sets off a seating area.
The deck shares a color palette with the adjacent living room beyond the sliding doors and naturally expands their living space. (Oliver has full indoor-outdoor privileges.)
Read more: Ellen's new book, Dream First, Details Later (Portfolio), is part memoir, part self-help, and full of encouragement to swing big.