In Lisa Edelstein’s expansive Silver Lake backyard and garden, the actress pays homage to Japanese culture, the vision of its previous owner and her own family history.
With panoramic views of the Silver Lake reservoir, a sunken Japanese garden brims with lush trees, shrubs and bamboo, all around Edelstein’s 2,500-square-foot Midcentury home. The original owner was Edward A. “Tink” Adams, who founded the ArtCenter College of Design in 1930 and led the school for nearly four decades.
“He was obsessed with Japanese culture and rescued these two bonsai trees that were on a bonsai tour that went bankrupt,” said Edelstein, who has starred in series including Fox’s long-running “House,” Netflix’s “The Kominsky Method” and Bravo’s “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.”
Because she loves to be “overwhelmed with trees” and grew up surrounded by Japanese art, Edelstein was a perfect match for the home in 2009, when she moved in and set about renovating the garden and continuing Adams’ aesthetic.
“When I was looking for a house, I wanted a Midcentury Modern, Japanese-ish, one-level ranch house with a view of water, walking distance from a dog park, that was super-private but not isolated,” said Edelstein, 53, who managed to check off every wish on her list. “It was crazy.”
The garden features tranquil ponds, and the deck railing recalls details of a Buddhist temple. A collection of pottery from the 1960s nestles among the foliage, and “beautiful, old Japanese lanterns” — also from Adams — illuminate the space at night.
What were some of your additions to the garden?
We put in the ponds and the pool but tried to make it feel like it was part of the original plan. I just wanted everything to feel organic to the space. When I bought the house everything was overgrown with bamboo, the path sort of went nowhere, but little by little we figured out where everything belonged.
What kind of trees and plants did you add?
We planted these beautiful oak trees down at the bottom. They’re so happy and huge, they were only planted four years ago and the trunks are so thick, it’s crazy. I trimmed the bamboo back and put in all the lavender, rosemary and all these stones. It’s just an ongoing relationship; when you find someplace you really love, it’s important to take the time to really feel the property and live in the space to know what direction you want to go in.
What attracted you to Japanese architecture and gardens?
My dad was stationed near Tokyo during the Vietnam War, so my older sister and brother got to live there, but I didn’t. Every year at school for show-and-tell I would bring this walking stick from Mt. Fuji and these Japanese dolls, so I had this yearning to know Japan. Then I went there 15 years ago and loved it so much, I’ve since gone three times.
Why is your rooftop deck so special to you?
It’s this beautiful space that overlooks the reservoir, and wherever you sit you’re transported out of the city, like you can be anywhere in the world. I feel so fortunate that I don’t actually have to leave the house to feel like I’m on vacation. We’ve created a forest environment with this beautiful water feature and it just gives us a lot of comfort.
What’s your favorite time of day out here?
My husband and I are pluviophiles — we don’t really like big, bright sunny days; we like clouds and rain. So I love the misty mornings that we get because of this big body of water, and I love that soft, diffused light that comes with it. And sunsets are really spectacular, colorful and right across the lake. I couldn’t have imagined a place like this; it’s so perfect and I’m so grateful I got to live here and have this experience.