outdoor living

At home, a California pepper tree (Schinus molle) naturally shades the dining table and benches. Decomposed granite, a warm organic and permeable material, makes a great floor for the space and allows water to reach the roots of the tree. (Photo by Tom Mannion, courtesy of Rizzoli)

 

Over the last twenty years, I have observed a positive groundswell in people’s attitudes toward living outdoors. It is not an organized movement but a cultural zeitgeist, a shift in thinking about our relationship to the outdoor spaces we make and inhabit. People are now creating environments that are deeply personal and reflect their beliefs, values, hopes, and desires.

Having grown up in Santa Monica, it would be easy to think that this is a uniquely Californian mind-set. Southern California has historically been a hub of activity for modern outdoor living since the mid-twentieth century. It had the perfect ingredients for realizing the dream of outdoor living: great weather, lots of available open space, and a continual influx of new residents ready and willing to pursue that goal. As that trend has continued into the twenty-first century, I’ve come to realize that this attitude is not limited to a small section of the West Coast. It flourishes all over the country, from rooftops and terraces to beachfronts and forested areas, and, of course, in urban yards nationwide.

“I appreciate both the quiet peace of a wooded property enhanced by the subtle design of a thoughtful garden and the pop of a brightly colored poolside hangout that shouts out ‘join the fun!'”—Judy Kameon

My first client in New York hired me because she wanted a “California-style garden.” I took that to mean a dynamic and beautiful outdoor space that could really be lived in, which is exactly what she and her family now do. I have been to parties there in spring and summer and heard stories of Halloween celebrations, snowmen, and all kinds of events and activities held throughout the year in their compact outdoor space. The art of outdoor living can be practiced anywhere.

So when I travel to other parts of the country and encounter the same attitude toward outdoor living, I feel right at home. California is a state of mind. I take inspiration from seeing what people have done in all kinds of climates and environments. I find it endlessly fascinating to see how different people’s imaginations have sparked their creativity and been put into play. I appreciate both the quiet peace of a wooded property enhanced by the subtle design of a thoughtful garden and the pop of a brightly colored poolside hangout that shouts out “join the fun!” Add a casual approach to entertaining and plenty of good food, drink, and conversation to the mix, and you have what I consider California living at its finest.


outdoor living

Excerpt reprinted from ©Gardens Are for Living: Design Inspiration for Outdoor Spaces, by Judy Kameon, Rizzoli New York, 2014 (Photo by Tom Mannion, courtesy of Rizzoli)

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See Kameon’s  10 tips to Extend the Garden Season from Gardens Are for Living.

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