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Above it all

A Santa Monica terrace is turned into 'rooms'

May 22, 2005|Susan Freudenheim

By extending her Santa Monica condominium's living area onto her wraparound terrace, Julie Milligan has doubled her 1,650 square feet of usable space and created five new "rooms," each with its own personality. A bare deck with painted rails now houses a morning sitting room, barbecue-kitchen, dining area, living room and bedroom. High-end outdoor furnishings leave old notions of patio furniture far behind; Milligan's ever-evolving terrace is filled with year-round comfort zones for groups both large and small.

"I like to make places feel sexy," Milligan says with a grin. To that end, she has focused on intimate seating areas, including a small dining table and a horseshoe-shaped outdoor screening room, all with spectacular views across the Santa Monica rooftops to the ocean. For a romantic look, European and Asian design is mixed with Mexican terra-cotta chimeneas used as heaters. Lush potted plants serve every possible purpose, from hiding unsightly nearby rooftops to providing edibles to adding fragrance and color.

Every interior room opens onto the exterior spaces, and the furnishings are consistent inside and out. Nearly all are covered with durable white fabrics that can be laundered to remove soot and stains. Pillows, easily replaced, add ethnic flavor to the comfortable settings. The semicircular outdoor theater area, however, sports yellow-striped upholstery, a nod to the yellow railings used throughout the condominium complex. The space is great for movies or special events. "I had 20 people here last summer to watch the Olympics, and it was very comfortable," Milligan says.

The former family law attorney-turned-designer has made a business of creating outdoor rooms for her clients. "I don't know why, with our weather, builders don't give more outdoor space," she muses. Yet her own home, which she has owned for a decade, proves that it's not how much space you have, it's how you use it.

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Resource Guide

Julie Milligan, Julie Milligan Outdoor Design, Santa Monica, (310) 399-3908. Cycad chandelier, at Julie Milligan Outdoor Design and at Rrivreworks, Los Angeles, (323) 937-4743. Balance teak dining table, $2,398, and teak benches/chaises, $2,057 each, at Janus et Cie, Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood, (310) 652-7090. Balinese teak daybeds, $1,650 each, at Jaipur, Los Angeles, (323) 939-7500.

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