photographs by melanie acevedo text by cynthia kling
Ask most garden designers to explain “rooms” and they’ll start talking about hedges, parterres and other expensive and complicated garden architecture. Ask Judy Kameon and you’ll get a much simpler answer: “It’s like inside a house. You need walls, a ceiling and a floor. Of course, you don’t have to interpret that literally—the floor can be anything, from flagstone to a plastic mat. The ceiling could be the limb of a tree.”
The L.A.–based designer—who runs Elysian Landscapes, as well as the garden
furniture company Plain Air with her husband—should know. In a state that’s
brought outdoor living to a high art, she’s styled gardens for a client list that includes
Marc Jacobs and Sofia Coppola. In her own quarter-acre garden, Kameon has created
three distinct entertaining rooms, each with a different purpose—from formal dining
to casual lounging to cocktailing around a fire pit. She gave us a tour through her
garden and revealed her tricks for bringing a warm indoor atmosphere outside.
The peppertree gives the space its architecture, while crushed granite provides a simple, elegant floor. If you don’t have a natural canopy, pergolas and umbrellas work well, too; a pretty plastic mat in lieu of granite creates instant flooring. Large candles and lanterns light up the surrounding plants and evoke a jungly, nighttime exoticism. The table is covered with Ecuadorian fabric and kitted out with glass votives, cloth napkins and tiny flower arrangements—all inexpensive decorations that add glamour and cast a cinematic feel over the evening.
Kameon removed plantings and used the freed-up wall as a backdrop to this lounging area, popular for lazy afternoons reading the paper and early-evening appetizers. Trelliswork and fencing are other ways to establish enclosure within a larger area. The gravel flooring anchors the space and sets a Mediterranean tone. Overhanging trees provide a natural ceiling, while honeysuckle perfumes the air. Plain Air designed the relaxed, elegant furniture, including the daybed, which was inspired by ones that Kameon saw on a trip to Bali.
Decks, terraces and rooftops already have the basic components of an outdoor room; by adding a few signature pieces, you create the ambience. The plum-colored wall and pigmented floor tiles foster a sense of containment, ideal for small gatherings. Plants soften the cement lines; poufs encourage lingering; and a fire pit makes guests want to gather and tell stories until the wee hours. Kameon loves that she can rearrange the furniture at will, and move pieces indoors when the weather changes.