A warm breeze travels across a grassy plain, gently stirring the flames inside mercury-glass candleholders. The flames’ reflections flicker against mirrors in intricate frames inlaid with mother-of-pearl and mounted on turquoise trellis "walls." Vibrant pink roses wind through the latticework, their scent saturating the air. Rare textiles with rich patterns and palettes mingle with the colors of this lavish outdoor space.
This is interior designer Windsor Smith’s unique room—a backyard retreat that can serve as an exotic spot for entertaining or change at a whim into an office, game room, or nap central. And it’s not in some far-flung locale but on the property of her home in Mandeville Canyon, Los Angeles.
"This space has the comforts of a great salon—but it’s not indoors. It’s nestled in nature yet somewhat separate from the elements," she says.
While an outdoor salon filled with antique rugs and crystal sconces may seem capricious, it’s pure Windsor Smith. The designer is known for breaking the rules and injecting traditional spaces with the unexpected. An antiques-dealer-turned-interior designer, she’s had a busy couple of years. Her Windsor Smith Home collection of furniture launched in 2007, and this year she added a line of fabrics and carpets through Kravet. Then there’s her day job—creating timeless-with-a-twist interiors for Hollywood’s elite.
Downtime is cherished. With "walls" constructed of vibrant blue trellises and a prime location just off the great room of Windsor’s home, the outdoor oasis allows her to remain close to her husband, Anthony, and two teenaged sons, Trinity and Oliver, as they lounge poolside or vie for points on the tennis courts.
"Women are absolutely riddled with guilt when we want something of our own," says Windsor. "So I created this space where I can still be next to my family when I’m stealing time for myself."
She is constantly changing the salon "set," moving items in and out. Nothing is off limits. When she brings in the inlaid 1920s Syrian game table, the competitive spirit of family members kicks in. "We take backgammon seriously in our household," she laughs.
When she’s enjoying a visit with girlfriends or a lazy Sunday breakfast with the family, the room is transformed yet again. Maybe she’ll decorate with a pretty sunburst convex mirror borrowed from her living room, a saffron-colored "Medici" velvet chair from her home collection, or bold pink-and-orange throw pillows for a lush lounge vibe.
There are times the trellised room becomes a haven for work. She’ll lay
out fabric samples and pore over design magazines as she curls up on the sofa, her morning cup of coffee perched on a garden stool or Moroccan pedestal table.
"It’s relaxing and slightly separate, but close enough," she says. "That’s really the beauty of an outdoor space."
10 Steps to Your Own Paradise
Tips from Windsor Smith for creating an outdoor transitional room:
1. Stake out a flat spot in an area with indirect sunlight.
2. Create a sense of enclosure with a trellis, a canopy, or a Moroccan tent.
3. Delineate space with a cozy rug.
4. Make the area large enough for dining.
5. Use paper lanterns, ground lights, and candles for ambience.
6. Mix indoor rugs and furniture with the usual garden pieces. Seasonal slipcovers can protect indoor furniture from weather. Add pillows for sitting and lounging—interior pillows are fine, or make covers from soft, weather-resistant fabrics.
7. Provide hard surfaces for trays of food or a pitcher of mojitos.
8. Let attractive game boards double as decorative pieces. Backgammon, chess, and checkerboards work well.
9. Use colors that imply a completely separate experience. Think international, ocean getaway, or similar escapist themes.
10. Hang art or mirrors to create the atmosphere of a real room.
Design: Windsor Smith, Windsor Smith Home, 149 S. Barrington Ave., Suite 268, Brentwood, CA 90049; 310/476-9603. Windsor Smith Home Collection, 818/222-7523, windsorsmithhome.com.
Photography: Michal Venera
Produced by Jenny Bradley
Sofa fabric ("Slubby Linen’’/Robin’s Egg #29702-115); tablecloth fabric ("Archipelagos’’/Clove #Pelagos 61); stripe on bottom portion of tablecloth and on pillow on sofa ("Cap Deluca’’/Clove #Cap 61): Windsor Smith Collection for Kravet, 888/457-2838, kravet.com, trade only.
All other pillows: vintage fabrics.
Orange ottoman fabric ("Vendome Strie Silk Velvet’’/Bronzine #81013-D): Brunschwig & Fils, 212/838-7878, brunschwig.com, trade only.
Zebra ottoman: vintage fabric.
Blue-striped pillow in front of ottoman ("Linen Stripe’’/Blue, Natural #107065): Travers, 212/888-7900, traversinc.com, trade only.