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The alfresco office

Family's courtyard is transformed into 'outdoorsy guy's' home work space.

October 10, 2009|Audrey Davidow

Looking to cut costs for his start-up software company, David Fishman moved his office into his Brentwood home and set up work in a corner of the master bedroom -- an arrangement that wife Lara says quickly became too claustrophobic for everyone.

"He was getting cabin fever, and I was getting sick of his stuff overtaking our room," says Lara Fishman, an interior designer and owner of Storm Interiors/Designers Call. With two young children and no available space inside, Lara decided to push the boundaries of the live-work concept further -- right out the door, in fact, and into the garden. She set up her husband's shop outside, making use of the couple's courtyard between their master bedroom and bathroom.

"He's an outdoorsy guy," she says. "He loves orchids and succulents and just being in the garden. So I wanted him to have a space that felt like an office, but also a retreat."

Lara decked out the courtyard with a mix of vintage, masculine pieces -- "Nothing too froufrou," she says. A metal desk coated for outdoor use and a vintage chair sit under a Cisco Brothers light fixture, a piece crafted from a recycled tent lantern. A teak gondola sofa covered in a weather-friendly blue velvet and a 200-year-old refurbished zinc wall fountain she picked up through an online auction add to the alfresco serenity.

Making sure everything could stand up to the elements was easier than she expected.

"There's so much available now for indoor-outdoor use," the designer says, adding that she anchored the space with an all-weather rug from Ballard Designs and water-resistant fabric from Sunbrella, which was used in a canopy, among other places.

For David, the place is the ultimate man cave without the cave.

"It's not easy to work in an environment where you have kids," he says. "I needed some peace and quiet, a place that would give me some privacy but also stimulates creativity."

Just as Lara had planned, though, the space is as convenient for play as it is for work.

"It's a great place to unwind in the late afternoon with a beer," David says. "And from where the desk is situated, I can even see the game on the TV."


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