4 Design Ideas to Steal From Short Stories, LA’s Newest Boutique Hotel

A former parking lot in West Hollywood no longer exists. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: a vast expanse of white and red marble (nearly 3,000 square feet!) has replaced the crumbling concrete, thanks to hotelier Leo Grifka’s vision of Grifka Groupwho led the transformation of Short storiesa 66-room boutique hotel that opened in March.

And while everything beckons you in, from the warm terracotta pink paintwork to the creamy Venetian plaster walls, we currently draw all of our decorating inspiration from the outdoors. The restaurant’s courtyard and alfresco dining space feels like a hidden oasis, surrounded by lush greenery and dotted with the bistro chairs you’re more likely to spot on the streets of Paris. Here’s how we plan to bring the look to our patios, backyards and balconies.

Look at hanging pendants for light

Lights hung from the trees above the bistro table and chair sets

Forget stringing solar string lights along your fences. We’re even skipping the paper globes for this one. Outdoor pendant lights are the secret to making sunset cocktail hour feel like an outdoor speakeasy. “These Italian lanterns first caught our attention when we were looking at room lighting,” Grifka says of the find.

Pendant lights and table lamps lit up at night

And as soon as they arrived from southern Europe, project designer Kevin Klein of Design by Kevin Klein jumped on a ladder to wind the plug-in lights through the branches of Rhus Iancea trees. The team concealed the wires by bundling them into groups before running the cords through the trunk as one. In a way, it’s the opposite of bringing the outside in, and rather bringing the inside out.

Comfortable cushions in performance fabrics

Round sofas

As a primary seating option, Grifka and Klein have created bespoke banquettes that are as plush as your living room sofa, with curves similar to the jewel-toned furniture at the hotel entrance. Comfort was the number one priority, but knowing that many of these pieces couldn’t be carried indoors in stormy weather, performance fabric came into play. And where else but Sunbrella?

Back view of the outdoor dining area

But you won’t see any actual umbrellas here. Instead, California dining nooks are strategically placed in the shade under tree canopies, providing natural relief from the hot Los Angeles sun.

Cover dirt with tiles

Water fountain in the yard

Blue curved sofa at hotel lobby entrance

Perhaps the most significant way Grifka and Klein blur the lines between indoors and outdoors is under your feet. Instead of cobblestone, grass or gravel, the duo opted for ultra-luxury marble. Sure, the stone is naturally tough enough to work as exterior flooring (and honed to be non-slip!), but cutting each into diamond shapes (not squares – the measurements are slightly different and a bit more expensive for get right), the contrast between the white and dark red hues of the material is accentuated. The look is more of an upscale kitchen than a backyard. It is also the same tile that you will see at the entrance to the hall. “The flooring that extends from the inside out makes a huge difference in creating a unique space,” says Grifka.

Use Succulents En Masse for Privacy

Wall of succulents next to the outdoor pool

The illusion of your own secret garden can quickly be shattered if your space can easily be seen by neighbors. Why not take note of the succulent wall? “The green wall by the pool was in poor condition when we inherited it. We rebuilt it and restocked it with plants that could thrive in this space,” Grifka offers. (We’re thinking of stronger species such as cacti, if your space gets southern sun exposure, or other drought-tolerant choices like stonecrops.) Although this structure is 9 feet tall and 20 feet long, you can get something smaller yourself or find vertical planter walls online, like these from Home deposit and Amazon – to wrap your space in green, just like Short Stories did.

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Rozella J. Cook