And for entertaining, the built backyard has proved to be a host's best friend, making it easy to set up tables and chairs without worrying about their legs sinking into grass. Best, with the Southern California climate making these outdoor spaces year-round favorites, there's the added bonus of less time spent mowing and more time spent lounging. Says Misha, "We're out here all the time."
Shown: A built-in grill with a brick surround was added a few steps up from the patio, right outside the living room. Stainless-steel doors hide the propane and extra grilling gear.