Whitney Port has always been a go-getter. But after the recent birth of her son, she and her husband, Tim Rosenman, were relishing spending time at home as a family with their newborn, Sonny. The couple had closed on their new home in Studio City less than a month before Port gave birth, and a full and speedy backyard remodel was in order. The goal: to have plenty of grass for kids to run around, a space for hosting and entertaining, and a comfortable haven for the new parents to wind down.
To help her transform the overgrown outdoor space into a baby-friendly entertaining space with Palm Springs vibes, she called on the help of interior designer Marie Flanigan and the team at Serena & Lily to bring her vision to life. "I had not really had a backyard in Los Angeles since I had lived here when I was a kid in my mom’s home, so I really wanted to take advantage of the amazing space and the view to really create a peaceful, safe haven for my family." Step inside Port's idyllic outdoor space and find out how she entertains her friends and family in the summer.
With a new baby in the family, the couple was spending a lot more time at home and needed a space that was really comfortable, had a lot of different seating areas, and was a place where they could entertain. "My husband loves to cook, and I love to entertain and create an ambiance," Port told me. "So the space was all about creating a peaceful calming atmosphere for my family and also creating a hosting space."
On any given Saturday morning, you could find Port sitting on the daybed outside her bedroom drinking a cup of coffee. "We have this amazing daybed, and we created this heart-shaped area outside our bedroom—it's so relaxing and comfortable, and I just feel so lucky to have that outdoor space to do work since I actually work from home so much."
At the heart of their backyard goals was baby Sonny, who would eventually grow up to play in the backyard with his friends. "We wanted to maximize the lawn area," says Port. "Before it was really overgrown, so we created more space for grass so kids could run around." The couple kept the seating and dining areas away from the pool, installed a baby-safe railing, and put extra care into ensuring that none of the plants or flowers were poisonous or dangerous for the baby.
"A couple of weeks ago, we had our first barbecue with lots of kids, and it really made me feel like I needed to babyproof the whole space," she shares. "It was our first time with, like, six children at the house, which was a little bit jarring."
The couple loves to host dinner parties and grill outside after a long day, so a quality entertaining space was a primary goal. "After a day of work, Timmy and I sit outside and chat, have a glass of wine, or just relax just the two of us," she told MyDomaine. "We take Sonny outside a lot to look at the view, look at the trees, and he loves watching the leaves blow in the wind."
On weekends, the couple invites friends and family over for dinner parties. On the menu: barbecue. "We have a firepit that just makes the space really cozy for when it gets nighttime. We also installed all these cool lanterns hanging off the trees. It's just a really warm, inviting environment to host in."
"Recently, we've been having a lot of people over for barbecues," says Port. The host loves to have a variety of drinks ready for guests: "I really have like white wine or rosé for everybody. Last weekend, we were making margaritas—just really simple, clean margaritas." A small outdoor bar cart houses various drinks and cocktails.
On the barbecuing side, Rosenman loves a mixed grill: hamburgers, chicken, and sausages, which the couple serves with a watermelon feta salad, grilled corn on the cob, and homemade queso dip. "If you marinate everything in advance, all you have to do is stick it on the grill," suggests Port. "Barbecuing is super easy to do, regardless of how much time you have. Sometimes, with my big family, we'll do a potluck to take the pressure off of us, too."
On the stereo under the twinkling backyard lights, their wedding playlist still serves as an ambiance for their dinner parties. "My husband always plays the same playlist: the Friday-night playlist from our wedding," she says. "We curated all these different playlists for our wedding: a Friday night, a ceremony playlist, a cocktail hour playlist, an after-hours playlist, a Sunday brunch playlist. Timmy just went crazy with these playlists. He always tends to lean toward the Friday night playlist, and it's just getting a little bit old; we need something new."
For Port, the most important thing when entertaining is to focus on spending quality time with the people that are there. "I like to just spend time with people and not be so concerned with how things are running," she says. Instead, she likes to entertain with ease: simple outdoor plates, dishes prepared in advance, and most importantly, no one allowed in the kitchen to help clean up.
Her favorite thing about her new outdoor space: "The overall feeling of just peace and happiness when I look outside," she muses. "We are so lucky to live in Los Angeles, have amazing weather, and to be able to have a space to enjoy it. I just really, really love being out there. I feel like my happiest self when I'm out there."
Port's Three Entertaining Rules:
1. Always have a plethora of beverages. "People love all different kinds of beverages: iced tea, lemonade, wine, hard liquor, flat water, sparkling water. It's always fun to have a lot of different beverages to choose from."
2. Create a lot of different seating areas. "You want people to feel comfortable wherever, even if all the seats are taken. I lay out blankets and little pink poufs from inside the house and big pillows and just lay different seating areas on the grass.''
3. Shop ahead of time. "There always seems to be so much last-minute work when hosting, but if you shop and prepare the food in advance, you can actually enjoy your guests and not feel like you are just slaving away while everyone else is enjoying themselves."