Interior Designer Michelle Fahmy and Landscape Designer John Sharp Collaborate on a Woodland Hills Backyard

On every level.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Jessica Ritz
  • Photographed by
    Aaron Snyder

When a newly purchased home has a good-enough outdoor space, it can be tempting to make do with a functional yet ho-hum setting. Such was the case in 2018 when a young couple bought a property in Woodland Hills. The debate: leave the yard as is? Or improve  it? A consultation in 2018 with designer Michelle Fahmy of Haus of Meeshie, who was brimming with ideas, helped them make a decision.

Above A fresh coat of dark onyx paint, deep seating and earthy woven pendants transformed the cabana into a welcoming shelter. Wavy concrete-framed outdoor mirrors by Made Goods and throw pillows in various motifs reflect designer Michelle Fahmy’s playful sensibility.


“I knew it was turnkey, but could use upgrades, and we were happy to put our own touch on it,” the wife explains. “I like a lot of color, which is why I gravitated toward Michelle.” The relationship began as many do in this day and age—she discovered Michelle on Instagram and quickly recognized her as a creative who deftly pushes people out of their comfort zones.

Michelle’s initial scope was to provide select interior decor consultation to infuse a fresh style into the 1980s Mediterranean Revival house. Then the pandemic hit, two children were added to the mix, and the sprawling backyard on the 17,000-square-foot uphill lot seemed to beg for a transformation. John Sharp of Studio John Sharp came on board, and together he and Michelle honed a vision that unfolded in two phases.

Above Once clad with drab flagstone, the pool/deck wall now features gleaming, green Moroccan zellige tile from Riad Tile. The Greek key-pattern tile border and various black-and-white decorative elements on the deck create a glamorous and cohesive outdoor decor scheme.


As part of the property’s unconventional layout, the backyard is most frequently accessed via an elevated catwalk that extends from the house’s second level. So the pool deck, located on the first level, was the primary order of business. Because the client likes green, Michelle opted to replace the unremarkable flagstone that clad the wall separating the pool from the spa and deck located just above. Michelle’s pick of glossy sea-green zellige tile makes for an immediate dynamic moment and wow factor. To complete this scheme, a Greek chain-pattern tile border surrounding the resurfaced pool “feels elevated,” says Michelle. “In my book, anything black and white is a neutral.”

Michelle incorporated a durable concrete outdoor kitchen setup from Wwoo to establish a functional area for entertaining. She then used an unorthodox approach to zhuzh up an old neglected shed at the far end of the pool. “Sometimes it seems counterintuitive to go dark, but it draws you back there,” Michelle explains regarding the currently chic onyx-hued cabana. The custom bench is built around an existing ficus tree, and provides both seating and storage. The cabana is accessorized with wavy concrete-framed mirrors that were painted to withstand being outdoors, as well as woven wicker pendants that John sourced. Michelle describes the Restoration Hardware beanbags placed within toe-dip reach of the water as “comfortable and unfussy,” while wide, black-and-white striped lounge chairs express a retro-glam sensibility.

John’s keen eye was essential when it came time to tackle the daunting task of taming the steep, wild, and unusable upper slope. The landscape designer’s earthy, organic interventions included adding hand-built wooden steps, meandering paths, and terraced borders with low planter walls comprising non-uniform rocks and textured mortar. Hardy plantings such as pride of Madeira, yuccas, and creeping rosemary were selected to withstand the intense Valley heat. Also added: a dog run, kid-dedicated play areas, a flat shaded pad for martial arts and meditation, a cold plunge from Renu Therapy, and an outdoor shower. Future plans call for a sauna.

This convergence of two resourceful design minds impacted every element of the project, from the variety of whimsical plants and trees to custom-built crystal totems that are dramatically illuminated at sundown. Also instrumental in the project’s success: open-minded clients. “They were wonderful in letting us play. It’s elegant and fun, but also informal and magical,” Michelle notes.

Join the Valley Community

Receive the latest stories, event invitations, local deals and other curated content from Ventura Blvd.
By clicking the subscribe button, I agree to receive occasional updates from Ventura Blvd.