Garden makeover
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Budget garden makeover: lounge deck, fire pit and more

Shown is the view from Michael Moore’s and Chad Rothman’s deck, looking toward the three new zones of their narrow backyard: an outdoor living room set on a raised platform, left; a strip of lawn, enjoyed here by the couple’s dog, Jackson; and a fire pit, bar and movie screening area at right, partially out of frame.  (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Michael Moore, seated by the dog, and Chad Rothman, seated on the sofa at right, host friends for drinks on a recent Sunday. The backdrop: a new fence by Creole Walker of Creative Design Works, which got the makeover rolling. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Hudson Miller, 1, makes his way toward the lounging area. Daily checks on Craigslist helped Michael Moore snag a set of Restoration Hardware all-weather wicker just minutes after a Hollywood producer’s assistant posted it for sale. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Now when friends come to visit, the party starts with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails on the raised lounging area. Proportioned like an indoor living room, the new outdoor room adds 130 square feet of living space to the 1,500-square-foot house, Michael Moore said. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Eventually the party shifts to the remade fire pit, set by the garage. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
The old fire pit, capped with brick and centered on a kidney-shaped brick patio, wasn’t in an ideal location, but it was already piped for gas. “It didn’t look awful,” Moore said. “It just wasn’t us.” So they pounded out the patio, chiseled away the old stucco and brick on the fire pit and... (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
... gave the fire pit an entirely new look. The new finish is a surface bonding cement that the couple saw on TV and applied themselves for a more streamlined, modern effect. Total cost: $200. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
The new cabinetry that Creole Walker built matches the fencing. Next to the garage, it can serve as a bar while also hiding the gas and irrigation systems from view. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Michael Moore found the powder-coated cast aluminum seating from another seller, paying one-third of the retail price. The furniture sits on gravel, which, unlike the old patio, is permeable; it allows rain to percolate into the ground, reducing runoff. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
“We really liked the garden when we moved in, but over time, we discovered we weren’t using it,” Chad Rothman said of overgrown plantings he described as English country. The new landscape is relatively low maintenance, with a limited-size lawn that serves a purpose. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
Guest Ryan Miller helps his son to fly during a recent get-together. The light-colored decking plays nicely with the dark gravel, bought from Bourget Bros. Building Materials in Santa Monica. “It turns out there was only one quarry near Palm Springs that had the dark gray rock we wanted,” Michael Moore said. Using buckets, he and Chad Rothman transferred 6,000 pounds of the crushed rock from a pile in their garage to its ultimate destination around the fire pit. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
As darkness falls, chairs pivot to face a once-ugly garage wall, which now serves as a screen for movies. “For someone who likes instant gratification, the long process definitely delayed my enjoyment of the final project,” Chad Rothman said, referring to the DIY elements. “But it was worth every swing of the sledgehammer.” (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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