Amid southern California's chaparral landscape, a backyard offers sanctuary and room to entertain guests.
What began as a modest proposal to resurface a deck and replaster an existing pool led to a dramatic transformation of a backyard overlooking Griffith Park. While the home—owned by a Hollywood Stylist—is nestled on a level plot, there were also pockets of previously unusable or awkward space. San Francisco-based firm SurfaceDesign took full advantage of those spaces by creating a floating deck, a structured retaining wall, and an outdoor spa, all of which combine to make the home a seemingly Mediterranean escape. From an upper-level courtyard to a secluded hot tub lower down, the landscape serves double duty as a flexible space for hosting and a personal retreat for the homeowner.
“Concealing a stair leading to trail access to the park, the wall’s form suggests the folds and striations of the sandstone geology,” explains SurfaceDesign. While the wall and fence provide more privacy for the backyard, their transparency restores visual connections with the park.
A custom lid for the hot tub doubles as a deck that can travel all the way to the outdoor shower on a track.
Sedums seem to encroach on white Napa Cast Stone pavers. As one moves from the poolside courtyard to the secluded deck below, the landscape transitions to larger succulents and then to sculptural South African euphorbias and podia.
Leading from the communal pool area to the more intimate olive tree grove, the intricate “woven” ipe boardwalk plays with a variety of lineweights and patterns. All of the wood used for the project is reclaimed.
The two story outdoor shower and spa features a water wall formed of bent steel. If the homewowner prefers an extended dip, the lid of the hot tub can slide right up to the edge of the shower.
Previously “leftover” space, a secluded deck featuring two green Loll chairs offers stunning views of downtown.
Three olive trees currently anchor the hot tub and deck area. The architects explain that transplanting them with a crane essentially positioned on a cliff face was one of the biggest challenges of the project.