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Well connected outdoor living space by interior designer Loren Judaken and landscape architect Katherine Spitz

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Chic outdoor space by landscape designer Katherine Spitz

Well connected outdoor living space by interior designer Loren Judaken and landscape architect Katherine Spitz Discover this article's resources 0


An outdoor environment can be about so much more than judicious plantings and colorful blooms. An emphasis on sightlines, sculpture and the magic of light can be as enchanting as any rose.

When the owners of this house asked interior designer Loren Judaken and landscape architect Katherine Spitz to reinvent their expansive back yard, their goals were aesthetic and pragmatic. The couple often host large charity and social events, so requested a design that would accommodate 10 or 60 guests comfortably and have modern visual appeal, says Judaken.

"Previously, the yard was broken up and therefore under used. The pool was in a similar position – there were many levels, a separate spa pool, raised planters, which obstructed views, and no large areas to work with. We swept all of this away, and began again with a clean slate."

With a minimalist palette of concrete, glass, aluminum and water, Judaken and Spitz designed a simple, adaptable layout featuring a broad patio with underlit steps delineating it from the pool area below.

"A white retractable shade awning, supported by a steel pergola frame, runs the full width of the patio," says Judaken. "As the owners like to entertain frequently, the patio can accommodate seating for eight around the central glass, stainless steel and mesh dining area – or the entire back yard space can be utilised for multiple tables of ten. Infared heaters are integrated into the patio frame to ensure the outdoor area is comfortable night and day, winter and summer."


Heating is also supplied by a fireplace at one end of the patio. This includes an extended hearth for seating, and a buffet counter. In addition, the granite fireplace screens an outdoor kitchen set behind it.

A cabana or pool house was built to one end of the new rectilinear pool. This has a pulled-apart feel, with butt-glazed corner windows and walls that finish short of the roof. Like the patio shade, this roof retracts. A sitting room has been included for private conversations or to relax and watch television, as well as a bathroom and an external shower.

Mature palm trees, scented plants at the side of the pool and the sparkle from the high mica content in the concrete pool surround all help to set the scene. So, too does the changing color of the pool water and the underlit steps, and the prominent artworks.

Spitz says the three glass panels by Philip Vourvoulis evolved with the design. They help to give the space its character and draw the eye from indoors to out.

"The panels were first intended to be a series of water walls, but we were swayed by the mercurial quality of the glass. Instead of running water down the panes we back-lit the panels and added a trough of moving water in front to create shifting reflections throughout the day.

"This is truly a built landscape, which sets it apart from a typical garden. I believe that gardens do not have to be green to create a tranquil and restful setting – and this project is evidence of that."

First published date: 01 February 2013

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Credit List

Interior designer Loren Judaken, Hoffman Vest Judaken (Venice, CA)
Landscape architect Katherine Spitz, Katherine Spitz Associates (Marina Del Rey, CA)
Awning Shade FX
Pool Addison Pools
Hardscape Lithocrete concrete from Shaw and Sons
General contractor Sable Construction
Furniture Janus et Cie patio seating and loggia furniture from Dedon; Royal Botania chaises by pool, dining table and chairs; Tournesol planters