Living is rarely contained inside the walls of a house. Especially in the South, porch swings, rocking chairs, gardens, and cookouts all encourage us to venture outside, making our outdoor living spaces as valuable to our home life as a cozy living room. As designer Charlotte Moss recently commented in our May/June issue, “The garden is the picture frame to your house. You can’t consider one without considering the other.” From porches and patios to stone paths and garden fixtures, here are five of our favorite ways to enhance the open-air areas of your home.
1. Making Rooms
Think about purpose as well as aesthetics in crafting outdoor “rooms.” Areas for reading or reflection, for example, call for shade and comfortable seating. Open gardens loosely defined by stone walks and living walls create ample entertaining space and expansive views of nature.
2. Space for Entertaining
Fashion a refined alfresco dining room with a basic bistro table and well-placed architectural elements. The spot is just right for hosting small dinners, as well as cocktail hours or large soirees.
For an entertaining bonus, a tiered wrought-iron cart acts as a casual beverage tray and transports potted plants wherever color is needed.
3. Consider Point of View
A verdurous landing just off the house presents a chance to easily slip outdoors for morning coffee or evening conversation. East- or west-facing views let you savor the beauty a rising or setting sun, or simply enjoy the lovely scenery at any time of day.
4. Garden Sense
Though visual beauty most often directs a garden’s design, many other aspects contribute to its enjoyment. Create a full sensory experience with the earthy perfume of heirloom roses, an herb garden filled with flavorful leaves, texture-rich plants like feather grass and lamb’s ear, and water features that add soothing notes to nature’s chorus.
Also consider a water feature. Whether whimsical or stately, fountains combine the beauty of man-made artistry with natural masterpieces.
5. Gazebo Getaway
A more literal outdoor room, the gazebo combines the best features of shelter and open air. Outfit the covered space with practical furniture but be sure to include the decorative elements of a home—framed artwork, outdoor lamps, curtains, and seasonal pillows. And incorporate storage for often-used items, especially if the locale is removed from the house.