4.30.2009

Outdoor Rooms

A room under a canopy of whispery leaves where the sun dapples through cool shadows and where birds sing all around you. A room whose walls are laden with vines or espaliered shrubs, where the carpet is pebble or moss or grass - no vacuuming required.

Outdoor rooms have become something of a 'must-have' for homeowners who love their backyards. They are places of hidden refuge amid the more public zones of the outdoor spaces, tucked behind hedges, gates, or fences, or contained within a series of ceiling-less walls.

Since I do not have a yard, I now find myself pining for one of those outdoor rooms to escape to, especially with the weather warming up and the leaves popping out of every branch on every tree. Below I've compiled a series of some of my favourite outdoor rooms - ones I can only access by sight and imagination, but nonetheless alluring.

Outdoor rooms do not have to be elaborate. This one above is charming and simple, contained within a wall of vines and potted plants. Designating a 'room' outdoors requires only a few simple elements:
  • A well-defined zone made more prominent by a differing groundcover or separated from the rest of the outdoor spaces by hedges, steps, pathways, fences or walls. It should be a destination.
  • A function: a dining area, a sitting area, a reading area or an activity area. The 'room' should serve a purpose.
  • Furniture: be it a dining table or a series of outdoor seats, the room needs its fixtures.

This outdoor sitting area in a yard in Vancouver is accessed from the house by a flight of stone steps, sunken in an area defined by a flagstone floor.
In the same yard, an outdoor dining room is located in a different section.
Another home in Vancouver, this one is designed for daytime or nighttime entertaining with its large gas fireplace. Note the adjacent dining area just a few steps away. With functional and well-equipped spaces like these, there is no excuse to miss a fine summer day.
In the same space, a wall contains a trio of fountains offering a natural introduction of outdoor atmosphere.
Martha's home in Bedford has several outdoor rooms. This one is located near her main residence. She is in the midst of building another outdoor room next to her summer house on the same property, a room that will be defined by 9-foot tall walls of emerald boxwood.

3 comments:

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Oh how beautiful! I'm compiling a roundup of outdoor room posts and I'll be linking. I can't wait to put together our outdoor dining area this summer!

Pru said...

Spring is finally settling in, and it is time to start thinking about outdoor eating. Your blog has made me think that maybe this weekend I will get everything set up. We are expecting nice warm weather over the summer and I can't wait. Thank you for the inspiration.

ANDREW RITCHIE said...

Pru, best of luck with your outdoor projects! I'm glad the photos gave you some gusto!