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SOCAL STYLE / Home & Garden

Poolside Cool

A Sheltering Wall, Awning, Deck and Fountain Create Livable Space Outdoors

September 20, 1998|BARBARA THORNBURG

"The concrete by the pool used to get so hot that you could actually fry an egg on it," says producer and media consultant Linda Grey of the Pacific Palisades home she shares with her husband, lawyer Kenneth Heitz, her daughter, Alex, and their three dogs. One summer day four years ago, as a joke, the couple broke an egg just to see what would happen. "It bubbled up and cooked," Grey recalls, "then the dogs ate it."

Wanting a more hospitable outdoor spot to dine, entertain, sunbathe and enjoy the dramatic Topanga Canyon and Pacific Ocean views, the couple turned to designer Ilan Dei. "The yard was a sea of concrete and black stamped-cement tiles that bordered the house," says Dei, who owns an eponymous design office and modern furnishings store in Venice. "I wanted to define different environments as well as give shelter from the intense heat and wind." So last year, Dei added a bold stucco wall with a steel mesh awning over a redwood deck to give "the illusion of an outdoor room." The cutout in the wall frames the view of the canyon, and a concrete shelf topped with Blue Ridge limestone serves as a counter.

A concrete fountain recirculates pool water and introduces refreshing music to the space. "Guests can sit on top of it as well," Dei says. Nearby, he outlined grass with concrete, each patch of turf topped by a large stone that is illuminated at night. "It's reminiscent of a Zen garden," he says. Elsewhere, more grass grows between the cracks of the sandstone terrace, lavender blooms in a lone planter on the deck, and boxwood provides just enough low-profile, low-maintenance greenery to offset the minimalist hardscape.

Now the pool area is rarely unoccupied, even in the midle of a heat wave. Heitz practices yoga there, Grey performs aquatic workouts and the dogs lie comfortably in the shade--perhaps dreaming of fried eggs.

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Hugonet aluminum "New York" table and chairs from Janus et Cie, West Hollywood

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