For interior designer Tom Beeton, garden living is as easy as opening a door. Every room of his Hollywood Hills house overlooks an outdoor room that’s just as comfortable as any space inside. Tables and chairs mingle on his terraces, lounges recline by his pool and a giant lantern swings from his eucalyptus tree. On all but the wettest days, Beeton even drags out his sofas. “It’s my Southern upbringing,” says the Virginia native. “Whenever possible, I’m in the garden.”
Two years ago, when he moved to this rustic 1936 house, Beeton didn’t know much about gardening. Nor did his third of an acre have much of a garden. What it did have were wonderful stone patios, mature trees, a city view. And running downhill from the house was an old stairway that had once been a Japanese-style watercourse. The old steps—created by designer Hugo Druehl, the property’s first owner—became the central feature of a new landscape designed by Tichenor & Thorp Architects of Beverly Hills. Though impractical as a water spill, the steps gracefully linked the upper terrace and the swimming pool. Brian Tichenor softened the hardscape by creating pockets in it for vegetation, which pulled the greenery from the garden’s edges to its center. On the pool terrace, he refurbished an existing pond, adding a fountain, water iris, pickerel weed and red-stemmed thalia. Along the stairway, he used drier stuff: rosemary, westringia, lavender and echeverias. The gray-green, bronze and rosy palette was dictated by the mottled trunk of the eucalyptus. But the tree also restricted plant choices to those tough enough to grow in soil permeated by its oil. Among the toughest, Beeton has found, are the liriope, aptenia and stipa grass that grow around the tree’s base.
White potato vines scramble over Beeton’s fences, hydrangeas prosper in the shade and ‘Iceberg’ roses—his favorite—bloom among the honeysuckle outside his bedroom. “To me,” Beeton says, “the secret of a great garden is knowing how to let go. As a decorator, I’m so controlling inside the house, so concerned with the smallest details. Outside, I tend to like things wild.” Which doesn’t mean relinquishing his comforts. His outdoor chaises have made-to-order down-and-feather cushions (“Why lounge on a rock?” he asks) and are covered in an all-weather fabric. He often adds his plushest indoor seats to the mix, draping them with silk throws and Indian bedspreads. Large umbrellas provide shade, the fountain offers music and a poolside fireplace lends atmosphere to evening parties. “There are only a couple of winter months when you can’t live outdoors here,” Beeton says. “But even then, with the sofas back indoors, the throws washed and put away, you can enjoy it through your windows—the feel of it, the smell of it, all the lushness of its moods.”