A Backyard Getaway that Turns Every Day into Spa Day

Inspired by their favorite Palm Springs resort, a Los Angeles couple transforms the spaces around their midcentury ranch for the ultimate retreat.

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After vacationing at a retro-cool resort, these homeowners dreamed of having daily access to those same amenities in the backyard of their Los Angeles midcentury modern ranch. Now a water fountain marks the entrance, which leads to a series of well-appointed outdoor rooms: a pergola-covered dining room, a living room, a fire pit, a pool and spa area, and a side yard with a patch of synthetic grass (an answer to Los Angeles' frequent water restrictions).

The homeowners worked with Elysian Landscapes and architect John Dutton to elevate their backyard. Selected for their unusual shapes, bold-leaved succulents, grasses, and cycads provide structural interest in the outdoor living room's concrete raised beds. An extra-deep sectional doubles as a daybed for naps.

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Spa Vibes

The redesigned pool's architectural look separates it from the living area but also provides seating on its wide ledge. A small and simple pool fits the space but provides the luxurious feeling the homeowners were looking for.

Water Feature

A fountain at one end of the swimming pool masks street noises and makes an eye-catching focal point for the garden—especially when lit up at night. The concrete slabs match those surrounding the pool for a cohesive look.

Trailing Greens

A wood-veneered concrete wall provides a backdrop for a dramatic planting of (from left) Aeonium arboretum 'Zwartkop', Aeonium 'Carol', velvet elephant ear (Kalanchoe beharensis), and Oscularia deltoides. Tile in various shades of blue mimic the colors of the ocean and sparkle against the pool's water.

Best Plants for Trough Gardens

Order Up

An outdoor bar with a floating wooden counter sits below a kitchen window that also serves as a pass-through for serving food and drinks. Turquoise metal barstools bring in the color scheme of the outdoor living and dining areas.

More Outdoor Bar Ideas

Patio Dining

The family eats outside almost every evening in nice weather. A pergola outfitted with a retractable canvas awning covers the outdoor dining room. Blues in the tabletop tiles and seat cushions echo the pool water.

Pergola, Gazebo, and Arbor Ideas

Subtle Texture

Board-formed concrete (a process where cement is poured into wooden frames) results in a distinctively irregular texture.  The relationship between the wood and stone elements of the backyard is key to the design aesthetic.

Cook Station

The grill and cook station are steps from the dining table, making family dinner easy. Stainless steel appliances are easy to clean and fade away into the concrete island.

Small Space

The long and narrow side yard proved to be trickly to make use of. With a concrete walkway and artificial turf, this part of the yard was transformed into a peaceful area for solitude. The side yard was designed with a built-in bench and cushion for comfort.

Party Pit

What was once an unused space off the master bedroom is now one of the most popular. The "den" and fire pit draw people for making s'mores. A pop of turquoise in a garden seat side table ties the den to the rest of the home's outdoor design.

Build a DIY Fire Pit

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