Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Outdoor Rooms


This might seem like a strange post in the dead of winter (and on top of that, Atlanta is in a record breaking cold wave), but I have been thinking about outdoor spaces quite a bit given that we are working on the plans for the new house, and outdoor rooms are highly desirable in Atlanta homes. I have never really saved pictures of outdoor rooms, so although I can think of at least 20 pictures that I have seen from magazines and real estate listings, alas I do not have these files on my computer. However, I was able to dig up a few prime examples to illustrate this post.

Some outdoor rooms are big enough for both a table and seating, and others are meant mainly for a cozy seating area and a fireplace. When building a house, the cost of building an outdoor room is not that different than building an indoor room. After all, outdoor rooms require a roof, a floor, often nice walls and ceiling treatments.


This breathtaking outdoor room, in a recent edition of Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles, has many features of an indoor room – beamed ceilings, lovely lighting, and an artful arrangement of furniture. The designers were inspired by the California design aesthetic as epitomized by Nancy Corzine, Barbara Barry, and Michael Taylor. Design by Judith Schindler and Sudi Cecil, photo credit Erica George Dines.


This charming outdoor space, by architect Jack Arnold, is part of a home in Connecticut, and was featured in the December edition of Traditional Home. Photo credit: Michael Partenio.


This is perhaps the most luxurious type of outdoor room: a pool house that has its own living area. Image via Phoebe Howard, who did the interiors on this pool house in Birmingham (click here to see the inside).


An outdoor room in a beautiful home I featured last year, with interior design by Melanie Turner. The home was built by Benecki Fine Homes, and was the personal home of the builder (it recently sold). I think this is the perfect size for an outdoor room – a cozy little place to sit in front of a fire, and I like how this room is oriented to the pool outside.

Mediterranean Masterpiece - Porch[1]

Another beautiful outdoor room that was recently featured on Limestone and Boxwoods. Image courtesy of Blayne Beacham. Click here to see the real estate listing by Beacham & Company REALTORS.


A beautiful outdoor room in an Austin, Texas home. The outdoor furniture is Janus et Cie. Interior design by Fern Santini; image via House Beautiful, photo credit Ngoc Minh Ngo.


Architect Jack Arnold’s home in Tulsa, featured in Veranda Magazine several years ago, features an outdoor ‘cabana’.


This beautiful outdoor seating area is right off the living room in a home I featured last year.


The level of finish detail is unbelievable in this loggia from a home on the market in Atlanta. I don’t think I have ever seen a limestone fireplace in an outdoor room!


Another beautiful loggia, from a home on the market in Atlanta (although it just went under contract). If you look across the pool, you can see that there are twin loggias, one off the master, one off the family room.

I have heard time and time again that outdoor rooms, particularly in temperate climates like Atlanta, become the favorite hang out place in a home. When I have been to parties at homes around Atlanta, the outdoor room (particularly when there is a fire lit, and the temperature is not too cold outside) is a real gathering place. What about where you live? Would you use an outdoor room if you had one?

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  1. I adore that Melanie Turner space...inside and out. Nice post...it's cold in Bham too, good thing we only have 'dead of winter' for a couple of weeks in the South, huh?

  2. I have always been a fan of Jack Arnold homes - I am not surprised you are too. They are lovely. In Boston it is too cold and we have too many mosquitoes to enjoy an outdoor room like that more than a month or two a year. But, I dream of someday having a room like that in a warmer more hospitable climate.

  3. These are gorgeous. I would love an outdoor room. I would also love for the temperature to go up in Charlotte as well!

  4. What a wonderful post to come upon while it is 19 degrees outdoors. I do not have a fancy outdoor room like these you have shared but I do have a wonderful futon swing supported with 4 pillars and a canvas roof where I spend many a summer evening reading and falling asleep till dark! It is surrounded by my gardens where I watch the hummingbirds and bees. Ahhh how much longer till spring?

  5. My favourite has always been the pool area around David Easton's old country house. I have swooned over that for years. I don't think he lives there anymore. Pity.

  6. lovely...this cold weather is making those rooms look all the more inviting.

  7. Yes, I know, strange to be posting about outdoor rooms now - look at the national weather map and there is barely a warm place anywhere in the country!

    One of my favorite evenings last year was at an intimate fundraiser at a beautiful home. It was a cool spring night, and a group of us had a wonderful time by the outdoor fireplace in a covered outdoor room. It was the perfect size, and the perfect setting. I thought about that house while I wrote this post!

  8. there's nothing better than a house with a great outdoor room in home. thanks for the beautiful post.

  9. I love the indoor/outdoor parties you can have for 3 seasons in Atlanta, sometimes even in the winter. Needs to be a big party, at least at our house. The more people, the harder the mosquitoes have to work.

    I'm wary of the upholstered look outside, especially white, no matter how weather resistant the material. It just doesn't ring true to my eyes, at least in Atlanta. You can only put the cushions out for pictures and parties. The furniture needs to look good without.

    We have a set that we keep on the chairs, they get really skanky but look OK from inside. We have another set we put out for "company." But we still have to hose the stuff down pretty often.

  10. Terry, I wish you could see my current outdoor room - a nice screened porch, but with no furniture. Ben the dog chewed up the synthetic wicker when he was a puppy (and we all suffered the resulting impact of plastic in his system). Nothing like any of these beautiful spaces!

  11. Want one; see many, just narrowing down the initial idea!
    Thanks for sharing,

  12. ohhh... I love outdoor rooms! What a fun post ... I too have been itching to get back outside now that the temperatures are so cold here. I like the Restoration Hardware chandelier in the Benicki home. I have see it used inside, but it worse so perfectly outside. Thanks for using my picture. That was also the cover of "The Beacham Series" last year. Makes me want to go sit by a fire :)

  13. What a great post...our outdoor space has been on my mind lately, and I've been daydreaming of what I'd like to do out there. Wonderful Inspiration! I'm in love with Architect Jack Arnold's yard..a picture of it is even on my desktop :0)

  14. Since we live in a colder climate, outdoor rooms aren't as popular. Mainly b/c between mosquito season and summer - there is really a short period of time to sit and enjoy the outdoors. Having said that - I would absolutely love one, and I work real hard to create an outdoor room on our deck during summer months. And I wish we had the space for an outdoor fireplace. But it just isn't the same..

    Now you got me dreaming..;-)

  15. I absolutely love outdoor rooms and you've highlighted 3 of my favorites.

    Melanie Turner's outdoor room from her personal home is amazing. The scale of it is just right and, as you mentioned, the view of pool is perfect. If you look closely, you'll see that she used a Bobby McAlpine design for the fireplace surround. It's irregular shaped pieces of limestone. They did the same style surround in their house on Lake Martin that was featured in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles.

    Of course I'm quite smitten with the screened porch at the Mediterraean house I recently posted about. The design by Rodolfo Castro and his team at Summerour & Associates is simply stunning.

    Finally, the pool and pool house from Phoebe Howard's portfolio is breathtaking. The landscape architecture there is spellbinding as well. I have an upcoming post that includes that same picture.

    Thank you for another excellent post. Certainly helps to take my mind off the fact that it's so cold in Atlanta.

  16. Wow! I would kill for just about any of these outdoor rooms right now -- my backyard and porches are still COMPLETELY bare (and will be at least until spring). Ah well, that's what dreaming (and blogging) is for right?

    And OF COURSE I would include you in my list of supportive bloggers. You've been such an incredible inspiration and supporter from the get-go! :)

  17. Love outdoor living spaces, and yes even though it is 4 degrees here in Kansas city

  18. Aloha, living outdoors in my neck of the woods is a must and I have seen some Fabulous properties along my travels in luxury real estate as a Realtor. Yes it is FAB!!
    New Year Wishes

  19. Just moved my work table out to what is supposed to be a breakfast room. It has a fireplace and it's own pitched roof, and glass surround.

    ...so I could spend more time in this indoor/outdoor room. Making the most of what I have, rather than just looking at it from across the kitchen.

    I am expecting the best of this space.

  20. I love outdoor rooms! Here in Belgium it became a real trend to have an outdoor room!
    We built a little oak outdoor building a few months ago. It is nearly finished and within a couple of months I will do a post about it!


  21. Fabulous post! Loved reading it! The room featured in limestone and boxwood is to die for! This is such perfect timing as on Friday I am introducing my New York client to Mc Alpine Architects who will be coming in from Alabama to discuss the designing of their pool house. After 2 attempts far too modernist for the house by previous architects, i told my clients that only Mac Alpine 'architects would understand the direction we were going for. Cannot wait....

  22. what a fabulous post! As another resident of Atlanta I have certainly enjoyed many a evenings outside- I love the BB example you featured. Alas, our deck outside the great room does not fit the bill but one day we will "finish" the area underneath the deck and create a lovely outdoor space! Some day it will be warm again.

  23. Great day to dream of outdoor rooms and why not dream of some of the best!

  24. I saw this post and immediately thought of my parents- they built their dream house and have a gorgeous covered outdoor patio with outdoor dining, couches, grill, fireplace, two televisions, the works.

    We are from Texas so they get to use it almost year-round and the breeze hits it just right. They get so much use out of it, I would love to have something similar when I have a house of my own!

  25. I loved the outdoor cabana by Jack Arnold. It’s a perfect outdoor entertainment area.

  26. Oh, thanks for allowing me to dream. Today marks day 15 of snow, cold, cloudy skies...an outdoor room with a fireplace would be so fun. My little fire pit is covered with snow.

  27. I wish Boston had the right weather for amazing outdoor rooms. Between the nasty weather most of year and the awful blackflys, sitting outdoors for any length of time would only last for about 3 weeks out of the year. I guess I need to move to Atlanta :)

  28. Beautiful selection of outdoor rooms - definitely going to keep these on file. Thanks for sharing!

  29. These outdoor rooms are all beautiful. I hinted at the one by Jack Arnold right before Christmas. I would love to have a space like any one of these. It's 20 degrees in East Tennessee right now and I would love to beam myself into one of these poolside rooms right now! (Just not in 20 degrees!)

  30. There are some absolutely dreamy rooms featured here! I think no matter where you live there's a time of year when an outdoor room could be so cherished and enjoyed. I especially love the addition of a fireplace in an outdoor room.

  31. Ah these are all so exquisite!!!! Outdoor rooms are very common place in South Africa, probably because we have the space, but I guess also because of the climate! they are wonderful spaces, often lived in quite extensively - I've started doing a number of posts on using your outdoor spaces for that exact reason.
    Gena @ Inspired Living Spaces
    and Vintage Rose Studio

  32. great inspirations...it's 10 degrees out, and I'm thinking how lovely summer sun would feel. Plus we're about to start working on our Outdoor LIving issue (yes, in the midst of winter...) and this is inspiring.

  33. Great Post! I am with you, they fascinate me also and you have shown us some beautiful images of how to use them in our decor. Love it.I just started a new blog and would love you to visit,Kathysue

  34. I dream of someday having a room like that in a warmer more hospitable climate.

    Work from home India

  35. I liked your article. Outdoor rooms have always fascinated me. There are two things in Atlanta that move me more to a semi-outdoor room with a lot of screens: mosquitos and pollen.

  36. I just found your blog and this post when I entered the search term: "outdoor room in a climate that is too hot or too cold." I'm so glad I found you!

    My husband and I live on a 100 acre, forested tract (Longleaf pines) near Pensacola, Florida. We have a huge house (the grandkids call it a destination resort!). It's great, but we are considering selling it and building something (or even 2 somethings) smaller: probably one here on another part of the property and possibly one in Western North Carolina.

    My conundrum is that if we could figure out how to have more "outdoor room" type living here, we would probably pick a site deep in a section where there are some nice big hardwood trees and build a shaded house with hardly any yard -- just wildflowers and native plants. In Pensacola, it gets crazy hot and humid all summer and then can be quite cold (freezing) in the winter.

    Looking at some of your great examples, I am thinking that a room surrounded by glass doors that could be open or closed, combined with a small screened porch and small open deck area might be the answer.

    I'll be back -- I can see you have lots of fabulous ideas that we can cogitate upon as we create a new design. . .


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