Friday, March 27, 2009

Outdoor Rooms for Living

Are you making the most of your living environment? Outdoor living is becoming more in vogue these days. Outdoor spaces, like indoor ones, should be designed for how we live. If you live in a climate that is conducive to outdoor living, why not consider a courtyard space or outdoor room?

Why do something like this …

when you can have something like these:

Photo by Wayne Strydom Garden Design

The outdoor room or courtyard is enclosed by at least two or three walls. These walls can be man-made or they can be living, green walls.

Secret Gardens of Sydney

The outdoor room or courtyard is considered a “concave” space. This is the kind of space that is the most comfortable space for people to experience. Psychologically, we feel protected and safe in this type of space.


Bohannan Courtyard

These spaces can be small and intimate.

Photo by amaryllis landscapes

Or they can be large and open spaces.

Photo by amaryllis landscapes

Often, outdoor rooms will overlook or connect to other larger spaces.

June2005 050


Suzman & Cole Design Associates

Always, outdoor rooms and courtyards are connected to the sky above.


These spaces can be achieved quite easily with a little foresight and planning. Why is it that so often we spend so much time planning the design of our homes, and fail to consider the design of our outdoor spaces?


Is it a courtyard or an outdoor room? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that these spaces, like indoor spaces, are well thought out and planned for how we live. What makes them so special is that they are designed for outdoor living and/or entertaining!

Photo and Design by Philip Nixon Design

How do you live outdoors? Is your outdoor space an afterthought or your favorite place to be?

To see what others are into this week, stop by Hooked on Houses, Fifi Flowers Design Decor or The Inspired Room.


  1. I like the space with the Adirondack chairs. Our porch always seems to have cooler. I'll best it's Pam's place?

    You need a screened porch in our neighborhood during mosquito season, a roof too. Tables and chairs out in the open get very messy. You need to hose them off before using them in your nice clothes. I think these high end magazine shots must be in California where it never rains or they are just decorative spaces. Nothing wrong with that.

  2. Modern is beautiful. I like what you posted here.

  3. The third picture calls to me- love it
    Thanks for sharing

  4. Those are TRULY FASHIONABLE outdoor living spaces... I could relax in any of those EXCEPT the first one!

  5. I love tiled outdoor spaces..., I have a large wood porch with a roof over it, kind of New England style, which is great, but I always dreamt of an intimate courtyard..., who knows, this is not our last house.

  6. I have so much work to do in my yard! Great outdoor rooms! And thanks for stopping by Casa Petrie!

  7. I really need to spend some time on my outdoor space. Thanks for posting these inspiring photos!

  8. I love outdoor rooms. The photographs you chose show the range of possibilities. Thank you! ~Arleen

  9. How neat, I love them all, especially the one with the chalk board wall.

  10. I like them all, except for the amaryllis landscapes wide-open black furniture layout. Too severe for my tastes. Furniture doesn't even look comfortable. I recognized your house PAm.

    Check out my attempt at designing an outdoor room:

  11. Terry and Jim-- You both guessed correctly. My house (and garden) was much younger in those days. The koi pond had just been installed -- you can tell by the color of the water -- there was no algae on the sides yet that turns the water dark. Terry- your yard looks terrific! And Jim-- you are a natural at designing outdoor rooms -- space that is lived in and enjoyed by more than just your family! You get it! My own outdoor room is really a breezeway between my garage and house. The second floor of the house covers it entirely. Because it is a breezeway or "dog trot" it is breezy which is great in the hot Carolina summers and because it keeps the no seeums and other bugs away! We spend a lot of time out there!

  12. I love the idea but usually get chased inside by the gnats here in PA. The photo ideas are very nice.

  13. Those are beautiful-I love the one with chalkboard, my kids would just die-they'd love it!

  14. Ooooh, I wish all those outdoor areas were mine!!!

    We actually have a pretty good outdoor area -- we built a 3-level deck a few years ago. The top level is covered and has adirondack chairs, the middle layer is small and has a couple of loungers, and the bottom level is the biggest and has our table and chairs. We eat outside all summer long -- I love it!! And I love sitting outside to read too :-)

    All the plants in our backyard are pet-friendly -- our dogs have to enjoy the space as much as we do :-)

    Kelly @ DesignTies

  15. WHat a fantastic post!!! I love that you show one setting with outdoor furniture, then an entirely different setting with the same furniture.

    In my next home, I would like to hire a fantastic landscape architect and do a really great outdoor space. I even have a file called 'outdoor spaces' on my computer as I see inspirational ideas.

    Check out Cote de Texas' post today on her fantasy French life - there are some great outdoor spaces in it that you will enjoy.

    Have a great weekend!

  16. I love outdoor spaces. This is one thing that I would like to spend some time on this summer.

    Beautiful photos!

  17. Great pics! I really need to get off my duff and actually come up with a real plan for the backyard - it'll take years to complete the whole vision I've got so far, and your pictures has helped me come up with a couple new ideas and modifications.

    Trouble is that I don't want to set up too much in the backyard right now with two little boys running amok, but when the boys are a bit bigger, I can expand on things in the back.

  18. These are beautiful garden rooms! I love the ones with water integrated into the design. I've added this post to my collection of resources on outdoor rooms:

  19. Oh, I miss my old "outdoor room"...two houses ago. I really worked hard on that yard to make it beautiful. I am hoping to turn my new house yard into a very comfortable and usable space at some point. Right now, since we just moved in, it looks very much like your top photo! It has "potential" :-)


  20. I really think patio doors make a huge impact on your outdoor space. It adds character and style as well as function. The ones that open up your indoor space and outdoor space are my favorite.

  21. oh man, do these outdoor rooms ever look inviting!

  22. These are just amazing! The lighting is so great! I could live with any of them. Last year we did a long deck and fencing, and I love being outside now...well worth it!


  23. Your rooms look bloody amazing.
    Well done - you must be so happy with it.

    Aanee xxx
    Flowers Dublin

  24. This is a very thorough article. Thank you for sharing this information.
    Outdoor Living Areas Dallas


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