Mayita Dinos, landscape designer and founder of Mayita Dinos Garden Design, specializes in designing outdoor living spaces that are as functional as they are beautiful. Her work features colorful gardens with a mission to build landscapes in an ethical and sustainable way. We spoke to Mayita about one of her recent projects, a colorful and eclectic outdoor space in Los Angeles, California.
1. What was the previous outdoor space lacking and what were the homeowners looking to achieve with the new renovation?
My client, who has a fashion blog, wanted to maximize the entertainment areas in the small backyard. She wanted to be able to host family gatherings, fundraising events, and photoshoots in the backyard. It already included space hoggers, such as a pool and an unused driveway. My job was to make every square foot beautiful and available for both day and nighttime events!
The driveway was turned into an outdoor dining room, the pool and surrounding decks were resurfaced, and a concrete banquette with a fire pit was added in that area. To enhance the drama during nighttime events, the pool was outfitted with water jets that leap from one side of the pool to the other. The combination of leaping water and fire is quite dazzling!
The outdoor dining area saw the biggest, most dramatic transformation. It was paved with bricks to match other hardscape areas. A metal pergola frame with a retractable canvas cover was added to provide shade during the hot summer days.
2. What do you think of comfort heaters in areas with minimal seasonal transitions like Southern California?
Even though Los Angeles’ climate is relatively warm, even in the winter, it can get too chilly for al fresco dining at night. However, with the addition of the Infratech heaters, any evening is the perfect evening for dinner under the stars. All of the vertical surfaces were covered with industrial wire mesh that acts as a trellis for star jasmine whose scent perfumes the air almost year round. Add a fountain to this scenario, and you are in sensory heaven!
3. What were your inspirations with this custom outdoor design?
My clients have a traditional brick and stucco house, but their tastes lean toward the modern side. They love plants with colorful leaves and flowers and wanted a vibrant plant palette within the context of sleek modern lines. I trolled Houzz and other corners of the web for images that inspired the trellis, pergola, and fountain choices.
4. When and why did you choose Infratech heaters for the covered outdoor dining area?
Originally I was planning to use gas heaters, but realized that they would not be safe to use in conjunction with the canvas top of the pergola. My contractor, Gabriel Frigg, suggested Infratech and we found the one with the dimensions and output that would work within our context. They have been a wonderful addition to the design – the sleek lines of the heaters take up very little room and are compatible with the simple metal structure of the pergola. I thought the heaters would be used mostly in the winter, but there are plenty of summer evenings when it is comforting to include the extra heat.
5. Do you think outdoor design is becoming a requirement for homeowners and why?
My experience is that this is absolutely true! People are hunkering down and making the most of their home base. Creating outdoor rooms enables people to live better, healthier lives connected to nature, and in many cases, produce their own food in vegetable gardens! Landscape designers are trained to look at space holistically; weaving together the practical and aesthetic elements into an attractive, cohesive design, and choosing plants that are sustainable for a particular climate and lifestyle.