A stylish home that blends indoors and out will make you green with envy.

In April of 2020, husband and wife Travis and Aubree Boul Gramberg, the owners of Koheid Design, a boutique landscaping firm, purchased a home on a corner lot in Costa Mesa, California. Of course, the COVID-19 lockdown was imminent, and they wondered if they’d made a terrible mistake. Instead of letting that deter them, however, they immediately started planning the renovation. The home has good bones, and the corner lot is large for the neighborhood. Their dream of transforming a property into an indoor-outdoor family oasis could come true. 

A breezeway connects the added-on bedroom suite to the original house.

Photo by David Duncan Livingston; styling by Dorothea Coelho

There were several problems that they needed to address: The exterior of the 1960s ranch house looked like it hadn’t been touched in decades, the inside floor plan needed to be redrawn, and the landscaping needed serious attention. So, they hired architect Craig O’Connell after being introduced by a business coach Travis and Craig both knew. “[Aubree and Travis] told me they planned to start and grow their family there, and they wanted to be able to easily entertain, hang in the yard, and just be home a lot during the stages of having babies and raising small children,” Craig O’Connell says.  

What the clients and the architect didn’t know, however, is that the project would lead to a lasting friendship between Travis and Craig, which, in turn, would inspire the design of the home. “I connected with Travis’s mellow and chill energy,” says Craig, while Travis adds, “It was great to soundboard ideas with a fellow creative and architect.”  

Because Craig got to know Travis and Aubree so well, his vision was clear: He needed to create a light-filled and “modern-ish” home with moody and fun details for Aubree and organic elements that complement Travis’s landscape design.  

Here’s how all this bonhomie came together:  

The Open Floor Plan 

Open Floor Plan

Photo by David Duncan Livingston; styling by Dorothea Coelho

To achieve a better flow, Craig removed walls that separated the dining room, kitchen, and living room. Meanwhile, the kitchen had a drop ceiling that needed to be raised for continuity.  

The change that made the biggest impact, Aubree says, was bringing the living room floor to the same level as the rest of the house and vaulting the living room ceiling. “Originally, the living room was two steps down because it was originally the garage,” she says. For her, it was crucial “for our future kids and my clumsy ankles” to bring it all to one level.  

The Primary Suite 

Primary Suite

Photo by David Duncan Livingston; styling by Dorothea Coelho

The home didn’t have a primary bedroom, so a newly designed addition was in order. It’s attached to the home via a glass breezeway that has sliding glass doors that can open on either side. “When designing the addition, I wanted to create a passageway that was light-filled and enjoyable to experience from every direction, inside and out,” says Craig. The breezeway is also an access point to the garden, and Aubree and Travis added two Jonathan Adler “face” planters to give it a little privacy and “add some funk.”   

The Neon Sign 

Talk to Your Plants Neon Sign

Photo by David Duncan Livingston; styling by Dorothea Coelho

Powder rooms can often be a great place to have a little fun, and Travis is a plant lover. “He’s always preaching how we need to talk to and love on our plants so that is where the inspiration came from,” says Aubree. The custom-made sign was created by Neon MFG.  

The Garden 

Costa Mesa Home Tour Garden

Photo by David Duncan Livingston; styling by Dorothea Coelho

Travis says he “wanted a garden that celebrated California native plants in an architecturally bold way.” All of them, with the exception of the cut flowers, are native to the state.  “As strange as it sounds it is extremely rare to use only California native plants when designing a home here, so I made it my mission,” he says.  

Rock Raised Bed

Photo by David Duncan Livingston; styling by Dorothea Coelho

The house is also near a protected wetland, so Travis designed the garden to act as an oasis for birds passing through. A stone raised bed was added for home-grown vegetables.  

The Outdoor Entertaining Area

Outdoor Living Room with Family

Photo by David Duncan Livingston; styling by Dorothea Coelho

The outdoor living room, of course, is a main draw. A flexible space that can be used for watching sports, taking a nap, or hosting a party, there’s a custom sideboard with a terrazzo counter and dry storage cabinets that seal completely to keep out bugs. “It truly is a dynamic heart of our backyard landscape,” says Travis. “It’s also a great catch-all for yard toys, cornhole, croquet, bocce ball, bubble machines, and s’mores supplies.” 

The Paint Palette 

Creative Paint Palette

Photo by David Duncan Livingston; styling by Dorothea Coelho

The color choices are all Aubree’s. “I [was] drawn to dark, rich greens, blues, and black hues to counterbalance the large amount of white space we had created,” she says. The use of warm wood and leather added balance.  

“We had many long conversations with tangents into our personal lives, family, work-life balance, hobbies, et cetera,” Craig says, and it’s a good thing they did. Aubree shares that she’s pregnant with their second child, and the garden is growing in nicely—perhaps because Travis is so good at talking to plants.   

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