You will get unending pleasure from constructing outdoor rooms. Europeans know how to do this, but North Americans have forgotten how to use walls outside. There are all kinds of joy to be had in the intimate use of light, space, and the sound of water—and you don’t have to hire an army of gardeners!
Learn about the four common elements that make a beautiful outdoor room, and more:
The Four Common Elements of Great Outdoor Rooms
In her research into outdoor rooms, HGTV host Kitty Bartholomew has found four elements they all have in common:
Water provides a very peaceful sound for an outdoor room. Many people also use water to cover up the sounds of urban conversation—fire engines, garbage trucks, jack hammers—but water can also be invaluable in the suburbs. To absorb the sound of a freeway, you need 200 feet of thicket. If you don’t have enough room, you can mask the sound quite effectively with a fountain. Or, you can create an illusion with 2 to 3 feet of bamboo massed so tightly you trick people into thinking that they shouldn’t hear the noise through such a barrier-and they don’t. Water also acts as a mirror, making smaller spaces seem bigger.
Wood, metal, stone, linen—all are natural materials that are well suited to outdoor rooms. Natural materials provide a sense of being at home, of oneness with the all, with nature, and can contribute to a feeling of sanctuary.
One way to make your outdoor room feel very intimate is to fill it with beautiful plants growing in beautiful pots. Another is to place chairs so that they welcome conversation.
Put a priority on comfortable furniture for your outdoor room; some even put a bed in these rooms if it has a roof! At least you can try a hammock. You’ll want to have welcoming and pretty fabrics, but make the furniture as moisture-proof as possible: Choose materials that are natural mildew-proof, such as wrought iron and cedar, and heavy canvas.
Adapted from Meditations on Design, by John Wheatman (Conari Press, 2000). Copyright (c) 2000 by John Wheatman. Reprinted by permission of Conari Press.
Adapted from Meditations on Design, by John Wheatman (Conari Press, 2000).