Great Outdoor Rooms | Midwest Living

Great Outdoor Rooms

Picturesque spaces. State-of-the-art kitchens. Fragrant flowers. A pillowy chair in the sun. With amenities like these, the best room in your house could very well be out of it.


European details such as lanterns and brickwork give this courtyard an upscale, yet easygoing, atmosphere, and help guide guests to different areas for dining and conversation.
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In this backyard, you'll find built-in benches and a freestanding swing specifically planned for relaxing and watching nature's world go by.
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Peaceful Nooks

Lush, landscaped borders curve around intimate niches in this Indiana backyard. Though not a large space, it features a fire pit, tranquil pond, swimming pool and patio. Broad paths or multilevel decks connect each nook. Yet, the low "walls" of greenery provide privacy and definition to this rambling paradise, with something unexpected around every corner.

A waterfall trickles into a pond, with lily pads and koi fish. Planting beds overflow with carefully chosen flowers and contain details such as a sundial. The concrete fire pit includes an intimate seating area. The pool, tucked into a corner of the yard, offers sunbathing and lounging space. Each room serves as a complete destination, much like rooms inside a house. The decks and walkways connect these smaller outdoor rooms to create a large outdoor living space.

Inspiring details

Water effect A pump recirculates water from this pond to create a waterfall. For your own water garden use anything watertight, perhaps a plastic-lined half barrel. Experiment with different kinds of plants or fish. (You can buy pond kits at nurseries and home centers.)

Smooth transitions An octagonal patio serves as a gateway to different areas of the yard. Frame views with an open-sided gazebo or pergola. Let vines such as clematis or trumpetvine climb the uprights.

Warm spaces This homeowner built benches around the fire pit. Make your own cozy outdoor area more appealing on cool evenings with one of the many warming options now available, from portable to permanent. Some varied choices: a propane-fueled patio heater, a wood-burning Mexican chiminea, or a brick fire pit that uses natural gas.


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