When interior designer Kazuko Hoshino and architect William Hefner bought their two-story, English Craftsman-style home in Hancock Park, they planned to turn one of the rooms into a quiet sanctuary. "Meditation is the first thing I do when I wake up," says Hefner. After moving in, the couple targeted the dining room at the rear of the house for its natural light and patio view of the garden. Dark-stained French doors replaced aluminum sliding doors. For soothing texture and warmth, out went the blue shag carpet, in went earth-toned slate; busy floral wallpaper disappeared; up went papyrus panels. "We wanted to make the room feel like a solarium with an indoor-outdoor connection," explains Hefner. "We painted the ceiling off-white to reflect the light, then added papyrus on the walls to make it warmer and softer." Furnishings set a serene East-meets-West mood, and include a late Georgian-style mohair-upholstered bench, a hand-painted Fortuny lamp, an embroidered pillow from Thailand and an antique children's bed from India that serves as a table for incense, candles and a small Buddha that Hefner found in Korea. Outside, water burbles through a lotus-shaped stone into a new koi pond and wind chimes stir in the breezes. As a final touch, Hefner and Hoshino placed a Balinese sculpture--a man and woman embracing--among the birch trees. "Their faces are lit at night," Hoshino says. "It's the first thing I see when I open my eyes after meditation and one of the last images I remember before sleep."
Angelika Hederer, a travel consultant, and her husband, Hanns, a car-parts importer and distributor, divide their time between Brentwood, Switzerland and Germany. Five years ago, the couple took up yoga as a way to relax amid the pressures of their globe-trotting life. But they grew tired of rearranging the living room furniture each time their instructor arrived. "We needed a quiet place to relax," Angelika recalls. "It was crazy. The phone was constantly ringing . . . it was hard to concentrate." The couple called on Los Angeles interior designer Thomas Beeton and Beverly Hills architects and landscape designers Brian Tichenor and Raun Thorp to carve out a tranquil yoga room from the garage and turn the driveway into a serene courtyard. Inside the yoga room, square silk pillows and patchwork leather ottomans sit atop a wall-to-wall sisal carpet padded for comfort, and a large mirror facing the courtyard brings the outside in. Antique Japanese doors of slatted bamboo filter harsh sunlight and open onto the courtyard terrace overlooking a fountain, a graceful Mayten tree and fragrant chocolate and peppermint geraniums. "It's so soothing to look out onto the garden," Hanns says. Beeton adds: "People need a neutral, mind-easing corner somewhere in their home. Today everyone needs as much spiritual breathing room as possible."
-Scented flowering plants: angel's trumpet, wisteria, rosemary, chamomile.
-Atmospheric music on satellite radio station MC9 838.
A Mediterranean-style villa set in the hills above the Pacific is surrounded by 12 gardens, hence its Italian name, "Dodici Giardini." Of the many spots that invite lounging, the owners--he's an international business consultant, she's a psychology professor--say one of their favorite places is the serpentine redwood bench in the "contemplative court." Architect Buzz Yudell, of Moore Ruble Yudell in Santa Monica, designed the house--complete with its own olive grove--with an outdoor room just outside the two-story library and a tranquil water court garden fashioned with Kasota limestone and metallic-glazed ceramic tiles from Portugal next to the dining room. The strains of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" can often be heard in the outdoor room, which stretches from the French terra-cotta tile patio down to a landing of blue-gray river rock. A Southern live oak, known for its horizontal branching, forms a natural ceiling over the space, and low boxwood hedges on two sides help enclose it. "We wanted to keep it very Japanese in its sensibility, with the bench as a sculptural element, rather than just a piece of furniture," says Yudell. The bench, sawed from redwood, snakes around the far corner. "I like to sit out here in the early evening and look past the house to the mountains," says one of the owners. "It's a room that feels intimate and, at the same time, embraces the whole outdoors."