Recently there's been a lot more emphasis on adding living space to our houses by opening up rooms to the outdoors. The most popular outdoor living ideas extend what we already have, like replacing a sliding patio door with a wall of glass. You get to enjoy outdoor living year round. With the doors closed, you can enjoy views when the weather isn't cooperating. When the weather's nice, you simply open the doors.
While we're all trying to figure out how to reconfigure our homes to create walls of glass, there's are more outdoor living ideas showing up in model homes. I've been seeing interior courtyards for a while. What I didn't realize until I toured this year's New American Home designed around two interior courtyards, was how important they are.
Look at the photo above. I'm standing inside the house, the courtyard to be exact, and photographing the front door and part of the upper courtyard.
Courtyards are the New Entryway
Maybe you've started to see small entry ways like the one above. Has that gotten you started looking for new outdoor living ideas? Or maybe you're looking for ideas to decorate the space you already have. I encourage you to stick with us for a few minutes and look at the details in each photo. You can get lots of great ideas from these model home photos or visit ones near where you live.
What I loved about the house at the top of this page is the water. The house is in Fountain Hills, Arizona which is in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Enjoying water here is a special treat. I hope to use some of these outdoor living ideas when I'm able to add a water feature to my backyard. No courtyard planned and for now, I'm saving my favorite ideas on my Pinterest board, Arizona Decorating Ideas.
Love how the waterfall starts on the wall next to the front door (top photo), flows down and under the steps to the upper courtyard (above) and continues down to the lower courtyard (below).
Here's the lower courtyard, with a simple patio and casual outdoor furniture. It leads visitors from the “front door” down to a second door into the first floor of the house where the bedrooms are found.
Here's another entry courtyard I fell in love with …
Opposite the chair with the yellow pillow is this incredible green wall combined with a much smaller water feature. Now I have to decide which I like best, as I probably can't do both of them.
Other Outdoor Living Ideas to Consider
Look at older homes and you'll realize most houses didn't start decks or patios. Over the years we've added these to cook hamburgers, and they got larger so we could eat outdoors. So these outdoor living ideas aren't random – they're meant to extend the space we use for indoor activities, to integrate outdoor space. Sometimes that's possible, like an unused side yard or the breezeway between the house and the garage.
The most common courtyards I'm seeing besides the entryways, are in master bathrooms. When the room is on an exterior wall and the ground outside is roughly the same level, it's rather easy to add a door and build an outdoor room. Here are a few bathroom courtyards I've seen recently.
You'll want to consider outdoor living ideas when putting an addition on your house. You can add two rooms for the price of one, when the second room is an outdoor courtyard on a slab foundation but open to the sky.
Remember that courtyards have been around since the Romans. Also called the domus or atrium, the courtyard was the most important part of the house where guests were entertained.
Author's sidenote: When writing these articles, it's important to research what's called a keyword. There's no point writing an article that people won't find because you picked the wrong title, so the results here were so funny I wanted to share them:
- Courtyard – yielded lots of results for Mariott Courtyards, but no I'm not writing about a hotel.
- Courtyard living – had more Marriott results plus “courtyard assisted living” which shows that bringing the outdoors closer to those who can't get around easily, is important.
- Indoor outdoor living – had some results and I laughed with one question that people are asking, do indoor cats live longer than outdoor cats?