Warming Trend

See how this South Bay family transformed their patio into a space they can enjoy all four seasons.

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  • Written by
    Darren Elms

Greta and Mike Jarvis faced a challenge common to many South Bay beachside homeowners: how to maximize a small outdoor space that’s both narrow and deep. Luckily, designer Sandy Koepke knew just how to turn this backyard’s soggy lawn and unappealing layout into a lush, multi-purpose living space.

Mike, Greta and daughter, Annika, enjoy traveling and spending quality time in resort destinations like Mexico, Fiji and Bali. It seemed only natural that Sandy would work an international vibe into the makeover.

“We wanted to create an outdoor space with living/dining/cooking/spa areas that would have the look and feel of a town square in Mexico or Italy,” she says. “It’s casual but sophisticated and a little bit rustic.” A mix of hand-woven textiles from Central America and both salvaged and new furniture pieces and fixtures add to the authentic character.

Designed for entertaining either a large group or just the family, the dining table is perched on a landing at the back of the property. Mike added white lights to the rusted arches, encasing the space to add a warm glow after sunset.

But it’s the fireplace that takes center stage on the patio. “Everyone wants to cozy up around it,” shares Sandy.

Just outside the main family room, lanai doors connect the two gathering places. “Even on a rainy, winter day, with a fire in the outdoor fireplace, the interior is expanded,” she adds. “We’re so lucky in Southern California to be able to kind of live outside most of the year.”

Even a sudden rainstorm won’t deter Mike’s grilling plans. “I just move over the big umbrella and do my thing,” he says.


3 Tips to a Year-Round Patio:

Succulents and Native Plants

Treated properly, they flourish all year long and fill in beautifully over time.
Drought-tolerant, they’ll look as good in summer as they do in winter.



Outdoor Kitchen

Don’t let a little drizzle upset your BBQ plans.
An awning or equipment covers will keep your stainless steel appliances
pretty from January to December.
There’s always an occasion for beer on tap!




Salvaged Furnishings

This old stone horse trough was the perfect find for the equestrian-friendly Jarvis family.
The patina on French bronze spigots and the copper sink shows how time and any kind of
weather conditions can only increase the character of your space.