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.


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In a smaller backyard, a dramatic pergola frames beautiful garden views from the home and clearly delineates a dining space from the attached deck.
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Smooth Transitions

Wildflowers fill the backyard, and there are plenty of places to relax and appreciate them. Once offering a fairly basic scene, with a one-dimensional facade and a flat lawn, the outdoor rooms of this Michigan ranch now fluidly link home and blooming garden.

The transition begins with the physical house, where a bay window, a series of gables and a fieldstone fireplace add depth. This layered exterior creates a "wall" for the grade-level deck.

Wide stairs lead to the patio. The pergola defines this outdoor dining room, taking the color of the home toward the garden. The 12-foot height of the pergola puts it at a comfortable eye level when viewed from the home.

The footprint of the pergola is a trapezoid, with the two columns on the garden end set closer together than the two nearest the home. The design makes all four columns visible from the deck. This larger-than-life frame allows for a relaxing vantage point from which to view the beautifully landscaped garden.

Inspiring details

Gorgeous greenery A trapezoid-shaped pergola adds dimension and works as an outdoor eating area, as well as a viewpoint for spectacular flower beds. Another idea: Train vines around a pergola, an arbor or trellis, all of which can act as "walls" for an outdoor room.

Low levels Consider height before building a deck or platform or adding on to an existing structure. A low deck, few steps and the absence of hand- or guardrails (required on taller structures) create a subtle transition from home to yard.

Defining furniture A neat metal patio set identifies the dining area, and cushions galore make the living area cozy. Don't forget to use appropriate furniture to earmark different areas. A daybed or chaise lounge full of pillows, coupled with a side table, provides a cozy spot for curling up with a good book. Just be sure to cover the piece with washable or water-resistant fabric.


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