Magazine article Sunset

Small Yet Abundant: Clean Lines and Artful Illusion Transform a Compact Garden

Magazine article Sunset

Small Yet Abundant: Clean Lines and Artful Illusion Transform a Compact Garden

Article excerpt

FOUR YEARS AGO, this garden in Venice, California, was a funky 1970s backyard with brick paving, flimsy lattice-style wood fencing, and a redwood deck littered with knickknacks. Then Daniela Rechtszaid, a designer, transformed the house that she shares with partner Juan Jose Quintana from a one-bedroom cottage to a two-story contemporary home. During the remodeling process, the yard was destroyed.

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"I felt confident handling the interior spaces, but I was less sure with the exterior," Rechtszaid says. So she hired landscape architect Russ Cletta and gave him a list of must-haves: places to eat, to relax, to string a hammock, and to grow a treasured root beer plant (Piper auritum), whose scented leaves Quintana uses to wrap cheese or flavor cooked fish.

Cletta--well known for creating functional and attractive outdoor spaces on the modest lots that proliferate in Venice--had just returned from Costa Rica when he took on the project. Impressions from his trip, along with the couple's heritages (Rechtszaid is from Buenos Aires, Quintana from Mexico City), determined the garden's tropical theme.

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In the front yard, a hammock sways near lounge chairs. The backyard is for dining and entertaining. The living area features an L-shaped wooden bench designed by Cletta that appears to float atop concrete. At night, when a fire glows nearby, this is a cozy spot. King palms edge the dining area. "When there's a breeze, they sound like running water," Cletta says. …

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