Do You Believe in Magic?

CA-Modern article celebrates atriums and plants that make them enchanting spaces
Fridays on the Homefront
The new CA-Modern story 'Atrium Gardens' is built around inspired atrium landscapes and ten appropriate and attractive plants for creating an optimal atrium environment. The atrium garden above was part of a major remodel project of an MCM home in Orange. Photo: Jeri Koegel Photography

If 1960s troubadours the Lovin' Spoonful were to sidle up to CA-Modern magazine feature writer Adriene Biondo and pose the musical question, "Do you believe in magic?", it would seem clear how she would respond because of her strong feelings about atriums.

Biondo, a Granada Hills Eichler owner and MCM restoration consultant, is co-author with fellow home-improvement writer Tanja Kern of 'Atrium Gardens,' the cover story for the new Spring 2021 issue of CA-Modern.

When Biondo talks—and writes—about the subject, 'magic' is sometimes the only way she can describe this signature architectural feature in many Eichler homes. "In the transparency of a window-walled atrium, there is magic in the fact that there is literally nothing but glass between you and your own private garden," she writes in the sumptuously illustrated feature.

In addition to the many photos of inspired atrium landscapes, the story includes a sidebar that spotlights ten particularly appropriate and attractive plants that do the trick in creating an optimal atrium environment.

Fridays on the Homefront
Architect Dicle Roberts' Thousand Oaks Eichler atrium, viewable from three locations inside the house. Photo courtesy Dicle Roberts

"We had a hard time narrowing down the photos because there were so many creative uses," Biondo admitted recently about the magazine feature.

Dubbing atriums "the most unique and well-loved space in an Eichler home," the story seeks to "delve into the planning phase of designing your own atrium garden by considering some important moves to make along the way."

"You can establish any sense you want," Biondo says of the way an atrium sets the ambience for new visitors to an Eichler home, adding, "It really brings something into the house that's more than just a light well…When you open the front door, it's a magical space."

One decision an atrium owner makes is whether to mix potted and earthbound plants in their design and to what effect.

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In their atrium in Orange, Leslie and Mike Eckart's homage to 1960s Hawaii. Photo courtesy Leslie & Mike Eckart

"I like planting both ways," says June Scott, owner of June Scott Designs in South Pasadena, bringing a professional's expertise to the story along with JC Miller of Vallier Design Associates. Scott describes elevation considerations in designing atrium landscape, adding, "That's actually one of the wonderful things about the atrium [plants] is playing with the height."