Backyard Goals: Ideas & Inspiration from a Creative California Outdoor Space

updated Feb 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

If you’re looking for inspiration on how to balance the design of an outdoor area—so it can be a creative space for kids, a refreshing zone for parents and a playful space for entertaining— this backyard is full of ideas. It’s a balanced mix of clever kid’s toys and dreamy areas to relax in.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Inspiration: We love California inspired indoor-outdoor homes, Scandinavian sensibilities, neutral spaces with a hint of mid-century modern, and sustainable design features. We are inspired by minimal, kid-friendly, indoor-outdoor homes with tons of natural light.

Favorite Element: The fire pit retreat! We tucked it away in the back corner of the yard and we spend early mornings listening to the birds chirp while we drink coffee and late nights talking and drinking wine.

What Friends Say: “How do you keep all these plants alive?” We started our succulent collection taking cuttings from neighborhood street plants when we first moved to LA 15 years ago. Every few months we take cuttings of our own plants and propagate a whole new group.”

“Your house is so California.” Yes! We love the indoor/outdoor lifestyle CA allows and we really try to blur the line!

Biggest Embarrassment: And our grass. We buy organic food and avoid single use products and plastics. We have energy efficient windows and appliances. We compost and recycle. We have low flow fixtures and appliances installed inside our home. We have a rain barrel and CA friendly landscaping in our garden beds, but our grass is definitely an embarrassment during the drought. That said, our kids run around the yard every day and we love that it really gets used!

Proudest DIY: The kids playhouse, water table, balance beam, and toy bins because Shannon’s mom built them for us!

Biggest Indulgence: Our Boda Boda: We love our family cargo bike. Shannon can ride both kids and all our gear. With a family of four living in a small home, it’s important to be able to get outside quickly and easily.


(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)


  • Rugs: Overstock
  • Pouf: CB2 and Target
  • Wood Toys: Community Play Things
  • Hammock Chair: Amazon
  • Kid table and chairs: IKEA
  • Water table: Shannon’s mom
  • Balance beam: Shannon’s mom
(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)


  • Designed and built by Shannon’s mom and brother
  • Carpet: Target
  • Pillows: Target
  • Chalkboard: IKEA
  • Bins: IKEA
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The kitchen leads straight out to the backyard. (Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

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