community yard tour: orlando soria
Community Yard Tour
Special guest: Orland Soria @mrorlandosoria
maximizing space for maximum enjoyment:
Here at Veradek Outdoor, we seek to provide helpful outdoor living information and inspiration to our DIY-minded community. We've discovered that we never have to look far to find that the best inspiration, and that's why we love featuring amazing creations that come from all of you! Dog dad and expert space beautifier Orlando Soria shares how he took a seemingly cramped space and turned it into a relaxing oasis in the arid Los Angeles desert.
crafting the perfect space for relaxing and reconnecting
What are some features that drew you to this property? Location? Style?
After spending the pandemic renovating my cabin at Yosemite in California, I was ready to get back to city living. I knew I wanted to be somewhere in central LA, so I began looking in neighborhoods near and around West Hollywood. I knew I wanted this home the moment I saw it. I have always wanted to live in a Spanish style home as it’s one of my favorite architectural styles and this place was just too cute and quaint to resist. I also loved that it’s a totally different style than my cabin, which is a 1990s contemporary home. I love that this place has a historic vibe; it just has a wonderful sense of presence!
Can you describe your backyard before the transformation?
When I moved in, the backyard was completely neglected. There was nothing growing back there aside from weeds, so I knew I wanted to add a ton of green and make it a space where I could hang out with my dog. There was no shade back there and it felt like an oven with the sun beating down. I wanted to soften everything up and just make it a lot more welcoming.
Products Featured: Metallic Span Large Planters
What are some of your favorite details about the Veradek Outdoor Kitchen Series?
I love how easy it was to configure exactly the outdoor kitchen I wanted. I knew I wanted a “social” kitchen, meaning I wanted the grill to face outward so I could grill while talking to my guests. I also loved how classic the design is—it can really fit with any home’s style. For example, my house is a historic Spanish home in the middle of LA., but these modern pieces feel right at home in my backyard!
I had a lot of motives for my backyard transformation. First and foremost, the reason I got this house is that I wanted a place with a yard for my dog. I knew I had to cover up the clay dirt outside because my pup was tracking in a LOT of mess and getting it all over my furniture. I also wanted an outdoor space where I could host friends. After being fully isolated during the pandemic, I was ready to be social again which is why I wanted a lounge area as well as an area to host dinner parties. And last but not least, I’ve always dreamed of having a custom outdoor kitchen. I never really thought one was possible because they can be so expensive to build custom, and ready-made options were a bit too heavy/big for my small space. The Veradek Outdoor Kitchen is such a game changer—I love how easily customizable it is, as well as how light and modern the design is.
When planning your space, what were some of the main considerations?
Because this is a small space, the primary concern was fitting everything I wanted: an outdoor living room, outdoor kitchen, and outdoor dining room. So I had to make sure the furniture I chose was to scale. Because of the surrounding buildings, it can feel a little cramped in the backyard, so I wanted to soften up all of those boxy rectangles. To do that, I sourced a variety of beautiful Veradek planters at different heights and planted them with drought-tolerant greenery. It’s made a world of a difference; it feels like an outdoor sanctuary now!
How has using Privacy Screens shaped your space?
I honestly didn’t even know such a product existed, but was so happy with the effect the Privacy Screens had on the style of my backyard. There are a lot of white stucco walls surrounding the yard, so I wanted something to break that up and bring in a little Spanish vibe (which I think the terra cotta-like color of the corten steel does, along with the pattern). I also used the screens to hide things like the power meter and garage door windows. I didn’t think I needed privacy screens because the space is pretty private, but they actually serve a wonderful design function that makes the yard look much more chic!
Products Featured: Outdoor Kitchen, Star Privacy Screen, Corten Pedestal Large Planter, and Corten Span Large Planter
What is the overall inspiration behind the style of your transformation?
I wanted a hybrid of modern and traditional Spanish design. You wouldn’t think it from first glance, but the Veradek Privacy Screens I chose feature a pattern that mimics some of the beautiful traditional patterns you’d see in Spanish tile, dishes, and textiles. I also wanted it to feel fresh and modern, which I introduced with the minimalist geometric planters. Overall, I love how it turned out: equal parts young and fresh with hints of Spanish revival.
Which plants have you used in the Corten and Span planters?
I added a bunch of succulents for their drought tolerance around the yard. I wanted plants with height, so I chose fire sticks, and I also wanted some drought tolerant herbs, so I added rosemary. I LOVE olive trees, so I’ve scattered some around the yard. And the tall planters helped—I didn’t have to spend a lot on a more mature tree because the planter itself gave me the height I needed. After the shoot, I did remove some of the water sucking plants like the Japanese maple (which also hates full sun, oops!) and the herb garden (except the rosemary).
Product Featured: Star Privacy Screen
Can you share 1 pro tip for designing an outdoor space?
Approach designing an outdoor space the same way you’d approach designing an indoor space. It’s all about creating different zones or “rooms” where you can relax and hang out with friends.
What is your go to backyard anthem for 2022?
This is gonna make me sound 1,000 years old, but honestly I love putting on an Ella Fitzgerald Spotify playlist when I’m out there. The classic beauty of her voice goes with the classic beauty of the yard.
What is your best recommendation for a cool drink on a hot day?
If you’re drinking alcohol, I love an Aperol Spritz. I went to Italy five years ago and everyone was drinking them, so whenever I drink one I feel like I’ve been transported. For non-alcoholic, I love sparkling water with a few dashes of bitters and a sprig of rosemary in it (you can’t really taste the rosemary but the smell makes the drink taste so much better).
What do you love doing in your new outdoor space?
I’ve been reconnecting with people I lost touch with during the pandemic. The most treasured moments have been reconnecting with a friend from college I hadn’t seen in years, seeing an old coworker for the first time in five years, or just sitting outside with my dog cooling off after a long day. This weekend, I’m having one of my best friends on earth (who I haven’t seen since 2018) and her kids over. It’s such a luxury to be able to be with people again. On a more practical note, I love grilling every day. I am a neat freak and I hate making a mess in the kitchen, so being able to grill some chicken outside to dice over a salad is so luxurious. My outdoor kitchen truly helps me make the most of California living.
What are some of your favorite elements?
I love the decorative yet practical Privacy Screens. They add some beautiful pattern to the space, as well as that lovely corten steel “rust” color, which nods to the terra cotta tiles on my house.
Product Featured: Corten Span Large Planter
What were some challenges of the design process?
The layout was probably the hardest because it was a total blank slate. Originally, I thought I wanted the dining area closer to the entry to the home, but I liked having the lounge area—a reminder of relaxation—be the first thing you see when you walk down the pathway.
What are some of your favorite Veradek products?
The Outdoor Kitchen is really the standout for me, but I also love, love, love the variety of planters Veradek offers. The different heights and widths are so helpful for planting different species of plants. But they’re also helpful in creating layers and adding height to an otherwise kinda boring space.