Weathering the Elements in Style
See how designer JJ De Sousa composed a chic midcentury- style backyard that can entertain multitudes and withstand extreme California sun.
Transformed into a stylish midcentury haven with ample entertainment space, this smartly designed backyard also endures the Palm Springs sunshine.
Homeowners Larry and Craig wanted the furniture and outdoor structures— like breeze blocks— to duplicate the midcentury- theme lime greens, turquoises and oranges found in their in- home artwork.
Infusing a backyard with bold patterns and vivid colors
is one request to manage. But how do you create a striking sanctuary that can survive— and be usable in— an average forecast of full sun and almost 100 degrees?
JJ De Sousa, designer and owner of Digs Inside & Out, says this 1963 Hugh Kaptur Palm Springs house and pool boasted near- perfect condition when homeowners Larry Neill and Craig Quirk secured the property in January 2019. But JJ had to double down on finding textiles that could sustain a daily baking in the Southern California sun. ( For more about Digs Inside & Out, visit shopdigsportland.com.)
BEAT THE HEAT
“I wanted material you can sit on without completely frying and that wouldn’t fade or deteriorate, because the sun can break so much down,” explains JJ. Homeowners Larry and Craig also wanted the furniture and outdoor structures— like breeze blocks— to duplicate the midcentury- theme lime greens, turquoises and oranges found in their in- home artwork.
JJ settled on more modern picks, like Kannoa dining chairs, and midcentury- style pieces, like melon- striped umbrellas from California Umbrella and Telescope Casual chaise lounges, that withstand heat and won’t singe backyard- goers trying to tan or enjoy a meal. “The furniture, colors and textiles really mesh to look as cozy as the midcentury style can feel,” she says.
TOP: THE HOMEOWNERS ARE PLANNING A FRONT YARD FACELIFT WITH THE HELP OF LAURA CROCKETT FROM GARDEN DIVA DESIGNS. BUT THE PAIR FIRST WANTED TO SPRUCE UP THE BACKYARD, WHERE THEY SPEND MORE TIME THAN THE FRONT. BOTTOM: JJ PULLED FROM THE COLOR SCHEME INSIDE THE HOUSE WHEN DECIDING ON THE PALETTE FOR THE FURNITURE AND STRUCTURES. THE VARYING HUES OF LIME GREEN, TURQUOISE AND ORANGE ON THE INTERIOR WALLS AND FURNITURE ARE REPLICATED IN THE UMBRELLAS AND BREEZE BLOCKS OUTSIDE.
JJ says an expansive, unused space remained after she removed a volleyball court and one of three towering olive trees. But after she planted a perimeter of about 150 laurel hedge shrubs, fenced in the fire pit with breeze blocks and erected a few seating areas, a truly homey backyard started to form.
Between the patio’s sectional seating, the fire pit, pool steps and an eight- seater, 60- inch Fermob dining table, nearly 30 people can comfortably enjoy Larry and Craig’s backyard. “Breaking that big area into smaller spaces just gave the yard more emphasis; and creating an intentional spot for the firepit made the space feel cozy,” says JJ.