Daily Garden : Phillip Nixon’s Morrocan Inspired Home in Venice Beach, CA

Morrocan inspired garden designed by Phillip Dixon in Venice California.

I spotted Phillip Nixon’s Garden in Apartment Therapy last week when they referred to it as an “Indiana Jones Oasis”.  (oddly, IMO, because nothing about this makes me think of Indian Jones – is it just me?).

The home and garden was inspired by Morocco but it lives in Venice Beach, California.  The AT story was short on words, but I found this excellent interview with Phillip.  He talks about how he designed this place (he is a photographer) and his inspiration and ideas around how he lives here.  It is a great read if you are interested in open air living and african architecture.  Or if you just care about how he’s used his home as the backdrop for his day job – as a high fashion and celebrity photographer.

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The house is huge (6000 square feet) and from the outside appears as a bit of an impenetrable compound with its high walls.   This type of private secluded space is typical of Islamic inspired gardens.  It also allows him to live with the doors open to the pool and garden nearly year round.

Morrocan inspired garden designed by Phillip Dixon in Venice California.

Morrocan inspired garden designed by Phillip Dixon in Venice California.

The pool is the central feature of the garden and there are lots of ideas that you can borrow for your own design. These are what I am seeing — add more in the comments if you are noting something else.

Ideas from this Garden:

  1. The big sculptural egg-shaped element is actually a large olive pot turned upside down. (Genius!)  
  2. No matter what style you are trying to achieve, natural stone will always help to ground the design. Here it breaks up the edges of the pool, acts like a mulch beneath plants, and was the inspiration for the texture of the walls.
  3. Bigger isn’t always better – a narrow lap pool with a shallow wading area is more than enough.
  4. After reading the C-home interview, it must be pointed out that your garden must suit your lifestyle. Phillip travels a lot.  No one wants to come home to dead plants after being away for work… so he uses plants that can deal with a lack of attention and that thrive where he lives.  It is a hard lesson but it is good to do the same.

Morrocan inspired garden designed by Phillip Dixon in Venice California.

And lastly – I love this bit of design advice from Phillip:

“normal furniture and paintings and all of that stuff is just jewelry. When a place is done, you shouldn’t have to put anything in it or on the walls. It’s already decorated; it’s already furnished. And also, it flows. So you have the seats, the tables, everything works together. And you just put the cushion on it and it’s easy maintenance. I’ll pick up a stick or a rock—to me, that’s art.”

Morrocan inspired garden designed by Phillip Dixon in Venice California.

Morrocan inspired garden designed by Phillip Dixon in Venice California.

Morrocan inspired garden designed by Phillip Dixon in Venice California.

Images: From 100 Layer Cake by Gary Ashley of The Wedding Artists Collective, Calvin Klein, and Apartment Therapy

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About Rochelle Greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.

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