1 house, 5 great outdoor rooms

See how one couple doubled their living area with stylish "rooms" outside

Outdoor sundeck/"solarium"

Photo by Coral Van Zumwalt

At home in the outdoors

Can you double your living space without adding a single square foot to your house? Absolutely, as Yifat Oren and Jonathan Cutler’s Los Angeles garden shows.

Changes ​in levels and materials help carve five distinct “rooms”—each laid out in a neat geometric shape and accented with the same hot colors—from the couple’s unused back and front yards.

The result? About twice the house, and no costly house renovation.

Click ahead for the plan and a closer look at each outdoor bonus space.

Info: Judy Kameon, Michael Kirchmann Jr., and Ivette Soler, Elysian Landscapes, Los Angeles (213/380-3185) 

Outdoor living garden plan

The garden plan

Mapping it out, room by room:

  • 1. Breakfast room
  • 2. Solarium
  • 3. Playroom
  • 4. Den
  • 5. Formal dining room

outdoor breakfast nook

Photo by Coral Van Zumwalt

Outdoor breakfast room

A brown-trimmed table and red metal Fermob chairs (fermobusa.com for stores) help set the entire garden’s color theme (unifying the overall look).

Yellow kangaroo paw grows behind the table, while tall shrubs screen the mini patio from passersby, making it an ideal spot for morning coffee.

outdoor sunning area

Photo by Coral Van Zumwalt


The raised deck outside the bedroom creates a perch for an oversize lounge chair, whose cushion echoes the bronzy brown foliage of a spiky-leafed phormium near the deck’s front edge.

Bronze plants repeat near each garden room, reinforcing the brown-red theme. Gold medallion trees (Cassia leptophylla) lightly shade both ends of the deck.


Outdoor living room

Photo by Coral Van Zumwalt

Den and playroom

Den: Vintage wrought-iron chairs, rusted metal side tables, and brown cushions make this space invitingly casual and play off the deep brown fence behind.

A purple hop bush provides hits of red and orange. Raised a few inches above the dining area, the den’s floor is covered with pea gravel. A potted bougainvillea beside the garden shed adds vibrant magenta to this “room.”

Playroom: Frequently occupied by kids and dogs, this patch of lawn between the "den" and "dining room" also accommodates extra tables and chairs when the couple entertains.

Backyard dining area

Photo by Coral Van Zumwalt

Dining room

The red metal Fermob table and red cushions are the stars here, with espresso brown stainless steel benches, striped cushions (plainair.com), and wrought-iron side chairs to set them off.

Cannas shoot orange blooms that resemble candle flames above brownish foliage. The simple “floor” is decomposed granite.

For casual backyard parties, Oren throws blankets on the lawn for seating and uses the table as a buffet.

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