1. Walls & Ceiling:
If you only remember one thing, remember that outdoor rooms need walls and ceilings just like indoor rooms. We crave a sense of intimacy and protection when we sit and relax or when we dine. The walls and ceiling don’t have to feel constraining – sometimes we only need a hint – like the combination pergola/bench in the image, below, combined with a privacy fence and plants or plants alone. [Read more about this outdoor room by Braitman Design]
A ceiling can be as simple as an umbrella (image below) or the canopy of a tree and the suggestion of a ceiling from a pergola (like the image above). [Read more about this outdoor room by Braitman Design]
2. Privacy: Garden Rooms feel best when they feel private. Privacy can be fairly complete like the garden below where stucco and concrete wall fully block views by neighbors. Or they can be slightly more porous, like the garden room above and to the left, where shrubbery largely blocks views and the open fence defines the border.
3. Extension of the House: Have you ever noticed how often exposed decks off the 2nd floor are largely unused. It’s often because they feel separated from the house and they usually violate rules 1 and 2, above. Through use of more refined materials and by creating walls, ceilings and privacy a deck or patio should feel like an extension of the home – a garden room beyond the living room or family room.
The metal balusters in the railing above, feel much more transparent than wood. The porcelain flooring feels more like indoors. Shrubs (not visible in this picture) will mature within abut 3 years to provide greater sense of privacy. In the short-term, annuals hanging from baskets in the summer will help solidify the walls during the months when the owners want to be outdoors.
Glass doors should invite you out to the garden room beyond. The two images below show how glass doors off two different rooms beckon the family onto a private patio at the front of the house.
4. Outdoor Kitchen: An outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a conveniently located grill or can be extensive with built-in sinks and refrigerators and grilling centers (like the patio, below.
5. Shady Spots and Sunny Spots:
If your deck or patio faces south or west, remember to include ways to shade a sitting or eating area. In the image, above, an arbor shades the dining area from harsh western afternoon sun
6. Add a Water Feature or Fire Pit:
Water — especially running water — can transport you away from your urban or suburban spot to someplace far away. It can drown out the noise of cars and neighbors. Similarly, the crackle of a fire can also bring your heart to distant vacations.
7. Lighting. Be creative about lighting your backyard getaway. Lighting could be as simple as porch lights (below).
Or you could use elaborate and creative fixtures to create a festive, inviting nighttime tableau (below).