MilkWeed: Succulent Tapestry Lawn

Most seasons, the natural hillsides of Los Angeles can be downright barren. Brown and dusty, what one wouldn’t give for the pop of color we find in January after a few rains. But without irrigation, that’s indeed what mother nature tends to supply. But then I visited the landscape and residential design practice of LushLife LA. Faced with a spacious sloped side yard that acts as more of a front lawn to their side facing entry, they have created an irrigation free “succulent tapestry” that is colorful and blankets the hillside perfectly anytime of the year.

The married team of LushLife LA, Anthony Guida and Kevin Abell, are a perfectly-paired duo of architect and landscape designer, and the home studio they have created in the neighborhood of Montecito Heights overlooking downtown Los Angeles embodies their firm’s principle of a detailed union between the built and natural landscape. Purchasing a hillside structure and lot set against a city park, Guida and Abell took an overgrown conjoined lot with drainage issues and minimal plant materials and have created a sweeping, smoothly terraced “lawn.”

By removing an existing maze of Escher-esqe retaining walls and allowing gentle slopes and ramps to traverse the hillside, the pair treated the landscape with visual brushstrokes of color, pattern and detail. The middle portion contains what they have entitled a “Succulent Tapestry” of color blending together the three levels of the home studio to the landscape. In the middle section a background of Blue Finger is broken by continually contrasted shapes and colors of cactus specimens such as Firestick, Purple Aeonium, several types of Jade and various barrel cacti. The upper and lower swaths contain Prostrate Acacia ground cover with Foxtail Agave plants.

Above and below the Succulent Tapestry drought tolerant plants of various sizes and form detail the stepped entry. Abell designs succulent spheres for many of their clients, and intense color emanates from these orbs as one walks through the garden. Vertical cuts of the garden are like color blocks of texture as different specimens blanket the divided landscape. Horizontally the patches sweep across the hill and tie with the entry. If I lived there, I’d never want to shut the front door.

Guida and Abell have collected natural and earth toned pots of various origin over the years to dot the landscape, empty or full as specimens go to the new homes of their clients, they are refilled to allow new detail to accent the garden’s corners. Guida affection calls one of his favorite, the “Flintstones” planter currently home to Firesticks.

As both an office for their design studio and a home for themselves and their two dogs, Guida and Abell have filled each room with intricate shapes and details reminiscent of the exterior landscape. Through the studio’s multiple balconies, patios and plants of green on the interior, each space claims a visual piece of their verdant exterior.

Peaceful and serene, LushLife LA is a oasis in Los Angeles no matter the season or the overgrown wilderness (or lack of) on the adjacent slopes of Ernest Debs Park. From the front lawn Succulent Tapestry to each interior nook and cranny, shapes, forms and pattern are thoughtfully arranged and composed. It’s a perfect lush life, indeed.

Stanley Beach House by davidclovers

The gut renovation of the Stanley Beach House by davidclovers resulted in four immaculate apartment units and a newly restored exterior. The ground and first floors feature the same floor plan while the lower ground floor and penthouse have layouts all their own. Located in Stanley Beach, Hong Kong, the structure is connected by a common staircase that is covered in a combination of restored and new woods. The wood spills over into each unit’s entryway and continues onto the kitchen cabinets and into the living room.

The penthouse (seen in the first image) was reconfigured to include an extra bedroom and joins the living room with the roof patio.

Penthouse entryway

Looking into the penthouse

Penthouse living room

Common staircase – looking down from the penthouse

Common staircase ribboning down

Ground and first floor living and dining rooms – identical

Ground and first floor bar area

Ground and first floor bar area towards kitchen

Lower ground hallway with coffered ceiling

This unit’s ceiling was cleverly designed with a unique coffered ceiling.

Lower ground living and dining room

Lower ground coffered ceiling detail

The house from St. Stephens Beach below

Photos by Margotpolo Productions Ltd. and davidclovers.

House La Punta by Central de Arquitectura


Central de Arquitectura combines a lot of great elements in the House La Punta, like concrete, floor-to-ceiling glass, and modern furnishings. Located in Bosques de las Lomas, Mexico, the three-level house is made up of large rectangles that are stacked on top of each other to form an “L” shape.

The ground floor is the living area that features the family room, kitchen, dining room, living room and a deck. Full of stunning floor-to-ceiling windows, it’s the place I’d want to spend most of my time, too.

The top floor houses the bedrooms, where the master includes this to-die-for closet.

The basement level serves as the parking area and has space for six (yes, six!) cars. It also has a game room, cellar and a room and bathroom for the driver (!).

Also loving the amount of foliage and house plants that have been incorporated into the design and landscape.

Photos by Paul Czitrom.

Dupli Dos House by Juma Architects

Located in Ibiza, Spain, and designed by Juma Architects of Belgium, the Dupli Dos residence features jaw-dropping views of the Mediterranean. The house actually began as two separate duplexes that they merged together to form the four-bedroom, four-bathroom house that it is today.

Originally outfitted with two external staircases, they demolished those and created one staircase inside helping to make one cohesive space. This also opened up the exterior and allowed them to create various outdoor spaces to enjoy.

One of the unique features is that they kept both pools. They made it look intentional with the multiple levels of terrace space in between.

You can cross over the pool to reach the outdoor stairs on the other side.

Overall, the interior of the house is white with a few pops of color throughout.

I love the floating bed that’s at an angle!

This project was done in collaboration with Minimum Arquitectura.

Photos by Verne Photography