“There’s something calming about being in a space that’s a little wild,” says Justina Blakeney while standing in her Los Angeles backyard, an evergreen tangle of rose bushes, tropical plants, and jade. “You just feel a bit like—” as she takes a deep yogic breath and exhales with a satisfied aah. “It’s how I want people to feel in a space that I’ve decorated.”
A prolific designer, artist, blogger, and author (of the bestselling book The New Bohemians), Blakeney gave us her best advice for transforming a boring backyard into a lush retreat.
Hair & Makeup: Tami K. Shirey; Prop Stylist: Merisa LIbbey; Wardrobe Stylist: Megan Kelley/Artist Untied
Keep seating flexible
“We move around this lightweight sectional all the time to create different arrangements for entertaining, naps, or dinners alfresco,” says Blakeney. She reupholstered the sofa’s cushions in a suzani-print fabric; pillows from her collection mix with vintage Moroccan cushions. Belham Living Monticello all-weather outdoor wicker sofa sectional, from $1,750. Orange & Ivory pillow (P0401), from $179, and Multi pillow (P0400), from $159; Justina Blakeney for Loloi.
Max out your greenery
Oversize ravenea and tetrapanax suggest a sense of enclosure; a philodendron dangles overhead. “Hanging plants create a lush vibe in a patio,” she says.
Create a versatile base
The tables range in style from Moroccan to modern but share a certain chameleonic quality. “I like to pick neutral pieces so that I can switch things up with textiles and accents from season to season,” she says. Martini side table in silver, $159. Vintage Moroccan brass tray top occasion table (tall center table), $445. Abbyson Living Sarra pierced ceramic garden stool in red, from $143. Vintage glass pitcher and glasses set, $68; vintage ceramic vases, from $28; and vintage brass trays, from $28.
The brass planters and shaggy pillows play against the rattan chair. “I love the look of rattan,” she says. “Even as it gets weathered over the years, it becomes more charming with age.” Zahra peacock chair, $990, and Lala stool, $195, by Justina Blakeney for Selamat. Indigo pillow, from $219, by Justina Blakeney for Loloi.