How to create a movie-lover's yard
See how a couple turned their yard into the neighborhood's most popular theater
With the help of landscape architect Mark Tessier, Ten overhauled their yard to create a gathering spot for the family, which includes 9-year-old daughter Maya and teenage sons Cole and Taro. But as movie night took off, the couple has been happy to see how it has transformed the neighborhood too. “It’s one thing to bump into someone on the street and share a few words,” says Ten. “With this outdoor theater, we’ve gotten to know our neighbors much better.”
Design: Mark Tessier Landscape Architecture, Santa Monica; marktessier.com
Lounge area. Seating for up to 12 and a firepit with room for plates and glasses encourage lounging. “I wanted a big living room–style sofa that works outdoors,” says Houston. For extra guests, she puts cushions on the lid of their daughter’s old sandbox.
Spaces for all ages. For their daughter, the couple built a toy closet and a fountain for water play. Their teenage sons often hook the PlayStation up to the screen, or play basketball on the other side of the yard.
Hook up your existing electronics. Connect your laptop to a projector and some small speakers, or your DVD player to a projector and amplified speakers, and plug each item into a power strip with a surge protector. For safety, run extension cords from an outdoor outlet with a ground-fault circuit interrupter.
Improve a screen. Hanging a white bedsheet against the wall is the cheapest substitute for a screen. Or mount a 4- by 8-foot sheet of foam-core board from an art store.
Rent a theater. You can rent a screen, amplifier, projector, and speakers from some electronics stores and companies like funflicks.com (from $299).