Given that real estate in California is limited and expensive, but we are lucky to enjoy wonderful weather year round, I decided to increase the usable space of my 1,535 sq ft house, to create an indoor / outdoor living space that my teenage boys and I could enjoy, whether it is to relax, work or entertain. With two teenagers in the house, but one single “great-room”, and small bedrooms, we really needed the extra “hang-out” space. At the same time, my boys didn’t play on the grass anymore, and the grass required too much water, and never really looked good. So I decided to remove the grass, and instead use decomposed granite (lower level) and bluestone (upper patio) and create a space with lots of different textures, to soften the hard surfaces and the lack of grass. I also wanted to have elements of water and fire to make the space warmer and more inviting - I think water and fire are essential elements to create ambiance. Succulents with all their beautiful colors, textures and shapes were the starting point and inspiration for my plantings, and reminded me of my Mexican heritage.