We dropped in on Backdrop co-founders Natalie and Caleb Ebel to find out how they created their dreamy courtyard patio in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles patio

Ye Rin Mok

If you haven’t heard of the online paint company Backdrop, you should familiarize yourself. After all, nobody likes wading through paint samples—there are just too many colors, let’s be honest—so Backdrop has a pre-edited selection that keeps things simple. Which is why, when Natalie and Caleb Ebel, Backdrop’s founders, first moved to their three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Silver Lake, California, she did what she does best: repaint.  

“With Backdrop, the first thing we do is give things a fresh coat of paint,” Natalie says. “Our bestseller is Supermoon, because it doesn’t have warm undertones, so we painted the outdoor spaces in that pure white. It brightened everything up and now the outdoor space looks brand new.”   

Backdrop founders on their California patio

Ye Rin Mok

Fortunately, the hardscape was well organized for what she had in mind; namely, as much outdoor living space as possible, which the family of four didn’t have when they lived in New York. “After living in a small Upper West Side apartment with no outdoor space, having our patio has been transformative,” says Natalie. “It functions as an extension of our living room and we use it for everything from gatherings with friends, to date nights, to movie nights with the whole family. It even occasionally functions as the best work-from-home setup you can imagine. Just 10 minutes of alone time here, surrounded by all the cacti and foliage, can totally recharge me.” 

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Here are Natalie’s tips for creating an outdoor living room, dining room, and balcony that serve as functional family and entertaining spaces. 

Do a Couch Double Take 

String lights over Los Angeles patio

Ye Rin Mok

To create an outdoor living room, Natalie bought two of the same couches and faced them toward one another. “This creates a lot of balance and it’s great for entertaining,” she says. Ambiance, meanwhile, comes from string lights and lanterns.  

Buy Everything from One Store 

White wall with neutral furniture

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Bistro table on patio

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Because she was shopping in the middle of the pandemic, almost all the outdoor furnishings and accessories come from CB2, save some hand-me-downs from her parents. However, Natalie didn’t order everything from the same collection. “This way nothing looks like it came as a ‘set,’” she says.  

Put Modular Furniture to Work 

The outdoor living room also functions as an outdoor theater; Natalie bought a projector and the couches are modular so they can be swung around. “Given we have two kids under five, I move the coffee table and we’ll sit out there for hours,” she says. “You put the umbrella up and hang out there in nature. Then, after the kids go to bed, we unwind, take a deep breath, and leave the doors open, which feels very fluid and it’s really nice.”  

Consider Your Color Palette 

Los Angeles patio with cacti

Ye Rin Mok

Steps away, an outdoor dining room also features furniture from CB2, while a neutral-on-black color palette keeps things cohesive. “The style I wanted was very Mediterranean to reflect the Spanish-style home,” says Natalie. “That meant keeping a lot of neutrals and bringing in color through accents.”  

Stay the Course 

Cacti and plants in planters

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Although she may be great with color (the green accents with the black and white on the patio seem particularly inspiring), one thing Natalie isn’t is a green thumb, so she left all the original plantings. Cacti and bougainvillea play up the Mediterranean theme, while pots from Sunset Nursery in Los Feliz keep the look textured but modern.  

Entertain in Style 

The Ebels now have friends over to enjoy the patio. “The other day, after the kids went to bed, we put on The Talented Mr. Ripley, which is just a gorgeous movie,” Natalie says. “We always have something to snack on like olives and salty chips and anything that goes well with a cold glass of wine.”  

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