In the Wild

The perfect white paint does exist

How the founders of Backdrop Paint created a seamless indoor/outdoor space with the help of their best-selling shade

Outdoor design tips with the founders of Backdrop Paint

We’re probably all craving a literal breath of fresh air right now. Having an outdoor space to call your own is suddenly the ultimate luxury, whether you’re working with a sprawling backyard, a pied-à-terre terrace—or a multi-level space in the hills of Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood, as is the case for Backdrop Paint founders Natalie and Caleb Ebel.

Not only is this the entrepreneurial pair’s first home, they recently relocated to Los Angeles after ten years of living in New York City (“We now have a washer and dryer, which is a big deal for us”). The home, a Spanish colonial filled with light and character, is quintessentially L.A. “We were told the house was handcrafted by a Hollywood set designer and Russian ballerinas used the laundry house as a hideout when they defected from the USSR,” Natalie told us. “We fell in love with this home partly because of the amazing backyard and patio. We use it as an extension of the house … our outdoor space has really become a combination of home office, date night, story time and ten minute breakaway for some alone time.”

Outdoor design tips with the founders of Backdrop Paint
Outdoor design tips with the founders of Backdrop Paint

The perfect backdrop

“My goal was to let the existing tile, mural, terracotta and scenery really shine. SUPERMOON is the perfect paint backdrop to accomplish that,” explains Natalie. SUPERMOON, a pure white, is Backdrop’s best-selling paint for both interiors and exteriors—which makes sense, since the brand was founded after Natalie and Caleb struggled to find a white paint for their daughter Colette’s nursery when confronted with hundreds of different shades at their local hardware store. “We ordered a vintage rug from Morocco that came in a week and the painting, which should have theoretically been the easiest part, took over a month.”

So Natalie and Caleb launched Backdrop in 2018 with a focus on customer experience and simplified shades, positioning paint as a design purchase above all. Backdrop has five shades of white, all named after lunar references, as opposed to “the 300+ unintelligible variations you might have found at the hardware store,” as Natalie puts it. “SUPERMOON specifically is great because it doesn’t skew too warm or too cool in its undertones, but it does have an interesting depth to it. I love a crisp white backdrop for exteriors.”

A perfect neutral white, SUPERMOON spotlights the details, from architectural features and outdoor furniture to the surrounding foliage. It also gave Natalie the freedom to mix color, pattern and texture in the accents. “Adding or removing just one accessory can totally change the feel of a space,” she notes. “I have a major soft spot for trays, pitchers, candles, planters, blankets and especially pillows.”

The Backdrop Paint founders share their outdoor design tips

“Treat your outdoor space with the same care you would the rest of your home.”
— Natalie Ebel

Backdrop Paint founders share their outdoor design tips

INDOOR / OUTDOOR DESIGN AT ITS BEST

For the Ebels, things move fluidly between indoors and out, so maintaining that flow was important. Even keeping the soundtrack cohesive helps: “We love music, and having the same tracks playing inside and outside helps that back-and-forth feel even more relaxing and fun,” explains Natalie. “We actually make a playlist for our paint names, so you can hear what the color sounds like. I’ve made some of my favorite playlists late at night sitting outside, and we listen to them all the time at home.”

Clearly, Natalie and Caleb have quickly acclimated to the whole indoor/outdoor lifestyle thing since moving to Los Angeles. “Obviously this is easier in places like L.A. where the weather is amazing, but my main advice is to treat your outdoor space with the same care you would the rest of your home,” Natalie says. “That will draw you out and keep you using it really often. Paint, plants and accents like pillows and incense are all super affordable ways to transform a space.”

Outdoor design tips with the founders of Backdrop Paint

Outdoor design tips with the founders of Backdrop Paint
In fact, moving from a small Upper West Side apartment with no outdoor space to speak of made the whole concept of outdoor design a bit intimidating. “Honestly, we put off designing it for a while as we were getting settled,” Natalie confesses. But then she saw the 2020 CB2 Outdoor Collection and was inspired to get started. “It immediately reminded me of one of my favorite places, Hotel San Cristobal in Todos Santos.” The hotel’s vibe felt similar to the Ebels’ Silver Lake home, so Natalie decided to emulate it with a neutral palette and pops of color, pattern and texture.

The architecture of the home itself also served as a source of inspiration when it came to design and decor choices. “I love the combination of the Clay Outdoor Pillow, Dart Outdoor Black/White/Green Diamond Pillow, and Burst Outdoor Natural and White Pillow. The Burst Pillow might be my favorite pillow of all time because the pattern matches my 100-year-old door,” Natalie says. “Another color combo I’m into is dark green, pink and terracotta, the same palette we’re launching soon [at Backdrop] with KISMET, SHY BOYS, and SUNDANCE KID. All three new colors are earthy and can be used for entire spaces or as interesting accent colors, particularly with SUPERMOON.”

This can all feel like a lot to consider when it comes to outdoor design, but Natalie has some excellent parting advice if you’re unsure where to start: “It doesn’t have to be overwhelming and it doesn’t have to happen all at once. Figure out what you really need to make the space useful and inviting and tackle those first,” she says. “You can always add to it later, but if you try for an entire remake all at once you’ll likely get overwhelmed, take a very long time, and probably spend too much money on things you don’t love. What you really need are a couple of comfortable seats, some functional accessories and perhaps an umbrella and you’re set.”

This interview has been edited and condensed. All photos by Ye Rin Mok.

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