When house hunters Misha and Kit Cooper went to look at a white-painted 1950s home in Pacific Palisades, California, they were faced with a scenario they hadn't expected: The backyard wasn't, well, a yard. While the lawn out front was large enough to kick around a soccer ball, the back of the house had no grass at all; two-thirds of the space was paved with brick, and the rest was occupied by a termite-infested, rotting wood deck. On the plus side, the entire perimeter was lined with mature ficus trees that gave the area a lush look and screened out views of close-by neighbors.
For a couple who love to entertain and spend as much time as they can outdoors, a fully hardscaped backyard would mean forgoing any plans for backyard baseball with the kids. "But we loved the neighborhood,
and there was a lovely front yard, so we decided to make the best of the back of the house," says Misha.