Southern California Outdoor Hardscape Project
Los Angeles, CA, USA
We enjoying being at home in the area of the northern Los Angeles canyons. It is a serene spot with nature all around (lots of birds, with the occasional deer, coyote, bobcat, and less frequently, bear or rattlesnake). We would like a comfortable, yet stylish, outdoor retreat where we can entertain our guests, either in the daytime or nighttime. We are fans of live music performances, and would like an area for performers, which can accommodate some type of seating for a small audience (25 to 50 people).
There is an area off the kitchen which previously had a large, above ground spa that we find most challenging. The area is under a deck, which is restricted by a height of 7.5 feet due to large support beams. We envision a seating area of some type that will serve as a gathering place for relaxation and conversation, with a serene view of a green canyon. The entire area under the deck is more rectangular in shape and has a space for either a water or fire feature that abuts a large retaining wall (the height varies from 10 feet to 7.5 feet in this area), which spans the back of the property.
Here are our top requirements and needs (photos and as-built drawings are attached):
Provide Privacy from Neighbor:
The Northeast entrance to the back area (near top of side stairway) needs visual privacy from our adjacent neighbor: e.g. ~5 feet high wooden gate; replace existing railing with wall extension to go to ~10 feet. Medium to dark wood material and modern look are fine. We most want physical and aesthetic durability, with low maintenance.
Visually Hide HVAC Units:
Provide internal fence (~5 feet high) to visually hide HVAC units in a corner, near the northeast entrance area.
Provide Privacy for Guest Bathroom Window:
We have a large bathroom window near the side stairway entrance. We do not need full obstruction. For example, hanging jali, lattice, and/or plants or flowers outside of the window could suffice.
Provide “Adaptable” Decorative Treatment to the Retaining Wall:
We have water intrusion issues from the hillside (e.g. paint bubbles), and would prefer to cover these areas with ornamental décor of some kind (e.g. screens, stone, tile, lighting, wood designs, etc.). A key purpose in having decorative pieces is so that we do not need to repaint often. We especially like jali or lattices as ornamental pieces. We are open to having a few plants at the base of the retaining wall and light fixtures highlighting various aspects of the wall and/or plants. The dimensions of the retaining wall are (from the Northeast side entrance to the back Southwest area): 10’ height x 40’ length; then 9.5’ by 12’ length; then 7.5’ height x 14.5’ length. Total length is approximately 66’.
Planter Area (in front of retaining wall):
We would like to use the existing planter area as a shallow pool for a wall fountain (waterfall, trickle). Additionally, we would like to be able to easily convert the converted pool area to a music stage (e.g. drain, then cover the open area with a foldable platform). The exterior dimensions of the planter is 51” deep by 114” long by 24” tall (4.25’ x 9.5’ x 2’). We would prefer a cost-effective aesthetic treatment, as the fountain has the potential to be quite large. We are open to a smaller fountain, however.
Stairway by Retaining Wall:
We prefer to keep the existing stairway, steps and railing as is.
Covered Patio Area:
This is an important area of this outdoor area. We would like to have a comfortable outdoor living space that can be used year round, with a Mediterranean design influence. The orientation of the sitting area would be facing towards the house and canyon (away from the retaining wall). The core living space would be approximately 8×11 feet, with additional irregular space surrounding this area. The shade and canyon breeze keep the area cool even during periods of high temperatures.
This is another important sitting/lounging area with unobstructed canyon views. Furniture and sun-blocking treatments need to be adaptable to seasonal winds and rains. The master bedroom has a sliding door to the deck area. We would like to replace the existing white railing with “sightless” cable wire railing. The current deck surface is made of Trex panels, and we prefer to leave as-is.
Here are inspirational photos of our on Pinterest account: