Interior designer Rebecca Johnston has been serving the Los Angeles area since 2007. Her firm, RJohnston Interiors, draws inspiration from classical design elements and integrates them into modern spaces. The Mediterranean Los Angeles patio (photo above) is a prime example of this approach: it’s an eclectic, luxurious space fit for enjoyment in any season. Since her firm is located in Southern California, a big part of Johnston’s business is designing for outdoor living. Read on to get her thoughts on essential accents for outdoor spaces and how infrared patio heaters seem to keep homeowners more comfortable outdoors than traditional models.
What do you look for when choosing accents for outdoor spaces?
I look for pieces that will enhance both the ambiance and the client’s use of the space. Always high on my list is to address lighting. It’s is a game changer in all spaces, but can really add to the outdoor experience. Lounging on big sectionals often means a long reach to set down a drink or reach a plate of food. We often add “C” shaped tables that slide under the furniture to bring that table top conveniently close and remain easily moveable. So often, we’re entertaining in the evening hours and there is still nothing quite like candlelight in my book, so we always look for interesting candle holders and tea lights. And don’t forget throw pillows! They do as much for your outdoor seating as they do for indoor seating.
How do you design outdoor spaces to accommodate for seasonal trends and transitions?
Entertaining outdoors has become so popular across the United States, but here in Southern California we can truly enjoy our outdoor space all year long. We think about how we’re going to reduce the heat in summer and the cold in the fall and winter months. Retractable sun shades, ceiling fans and outdoor heaters make a space comfortable year round. We especially like to design with infrared heaters because they heat objects, not air.
What makes your Mediterranean Los Angeles patio different from other outdoor spaces in the area?
There are a few things that make this space great to spend time in. It’s a mix of materials and styles, with a Mediterranean hardscape juxtaposed against contemporary outdoor furnishings. The patio cover both shades the space and provides protection from rain. Good lighting adds to both the atmosphere and the function of the space, and the ambiance of a great fire is enhanced by the heaters that actually keep you warm! What you don’t see in this image is the sectionals can be arranged into serpentine shapes which works for the way the clients entertain. We always design for the multiple ways a space might need to function.
Why does your firm choose to include Infratech heaters in your outdoor designs?
I love to specify Infratech heaters because they heat objects rather than air. Even on very chilly nights you soak up that heat like you soak up the sun on a ski slope. I’m not well-versed in explaining the science behind it, but I know they keep me much warmer than a traditional patio heater! I particularly love the flush mount heaters for their clean, streamlined installation. On our Mediterranean Los Angeles patio project, we used the flush mount heaters in the pool house.
What inspires you when creating a custom outdoor space for clients?
There are usually three key things: the clients themselves — how they live and how they want the space to function for their lifestyle, the architecture of the house, and the views.