Extending the home
Impressive architecture plus functional living space equal an area that's useful and beautiful. The versatile "rooms" in this Illinois backyard balance formal with casual, and respond well to large parties or solitary afternoons.
Everything radiates from the central sunroom. Its continuous windows and glass ceiling make it the next best thing to being outside. The circular shape extends to the surrounding deck and shows up elsewhere such as in the walkways and rounded pergola over the formal garden patio.
This secluded patio, along with the deck's many levels and built-in benches and planters, furnishes private spaces. Well-placed design elements offset intimacy with openness. A trellis rather than a closed ceiling over the deck allows full backyard views from the home's upper floor. Stone walkways lead from deck to patio to hot tub to pool. Guests easily mingle, yet still find comfortable places for private conversation.
Big style A round sunroom and conservatory set the tone for the entire outdoor area. Focus on a showpiece: a majestic fountain, an intricate gazebo or a brightly painted garden shed. Replicate or suggest its best qualities throughout your space.
Lots of levels Varying the levels of decks or patios breaks larger spaces into more intimate areas. Build a second deck a few steps lower or higher than the one you have. Lay a brick patio at the foot of your deck stairs. Add a pergola for a "ceiling."
Uncovered beauty This homeowner combated exposed basement brick with backlit glass block. Identify your backyard trouble spots--those areas that nag at you. House your garbage cans in an attractive structure, or fill empty space in your yard with a sculpture or shrubbery. Get creative!