Meet the Designer: Kate Anne Designs
The landscaping duo transforms a backyard with a special grill station.
A home in Los Angeles had a backyard that lacked character and cohesion. Character and cohesion are exactly what husband and wife Kate and Ryan Gross bring to the table, respectively. Kate has a background in interior design and a knack for plants, materials, and aesthetics. Ryan has experience working for a large architectural firm, managing many employees and construction sites. “By being design-build, we can be fully responsible for the entire project from start to finish, and it gives the client a much better project in the end,” Ryan says of the couple’s landscape firm, Kate Anne Designs. Together, they brought their client’s visions to life and transformed this backyard in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles.
What was the inspiration behind this backyard?
Kate Gross: The clients have this historical Spanish home, so the main accomplishments were keeping and connecting with the historical architecture and making all of the space level and usable. They had so many different rooms they wanted to fit in, so it was our job to make it feel airy and open.
What do you mean by “rooms” in a backyard?
Ryan Gross: When we say “room” we mean a special-use area. They wanted these different things to fit in, but they kind of had a space constraint. The trick was trying to fit in moments, or rooms, within the yard so they felt like they had their own space that wasn’t jumbled.
What particular features were your clients looking for?
RG: The husband is an attorney, but his prime hobby is that he’s a grill master. His most important thing in the yard was the barbecue island. He wanted to be able to cook a lot of different kinds of barbecue meats, smoked meats, braised, everything you could possibly do with meat.
How did you bring this grill master’s dream to life?
RG: We included that 36-foot-long island and it has a legitimate Argentine grill. You actually cook meat over burning logs and we created a log cubby below it. He wanted to smoke meat, so we included a really nice smoker. He also wanted a regular grill so that he could sear the meat before grilling or smoking it.
Does the outdoor kitchen feature anything else?
KG: It’s like a full industrial kitchen.
RG: He wanted refrigerated drawers so that he could keep all of the ingredients, as well as a drink fridge, and a Sonic ice machine. He wanted to be able to have the same kind of ice you get from Sonic––the ice that’s great to crunch.
What was the inspiration behind some of the outdoor kitchen’s design aspects?
KG: One of the biggest things we ask the clients to provide is concept photos, just to get in their heads a little bit. What I loved about the concept photos this client sent us was a very transitional, Mediterranean, contemporary feel.
RG: The clients travel a lot and they have been all over the Mediterranean and through Spanish areas. They really wanted to bring some of that to the backyard. With the grilling, we asked them to show us anything that they’ve seen on Pinterest or Houzz so we can see what they like.
KG: On the barbecue, the waterfall edge was just to bring some contemporary in. The reclaimed wood was to go with the Argentine firewood on the opposite side.
RG: The reclaimed wood itself, below the counter, is from a barn in Montana.
What is your favorite aspect of the new backyard?
KG: The use of flow. You can see the diamond pattern all the way through. And the use of simple plants behind the pool, which kept it really clean and flowy. The biggest contrast for me is the patio and then everything else is really subtle, which I really like.
What distinguishes a Kate Anne design?
RG: Kate plays with a lot of different shades of green and keeps it very simple, so that the rest of the yard is accented. The green acts like a nice backdrop behind everything we do in front of it––like the barbecue island and the furniture. The accents and the colors come from the accessories and the furnishings, so it’s not too busy.
KG: I like to use really clean, simple, and common colors. Lots of green, grays, and then accents of browns and black. I really love rustic design, so to accomplish that I use a lot of colors from nature––period, end of story.