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The 4 Elements of Great Outdoor Rooms

The 4 Elements of Great Outdoor Rooms

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.

Natural Materials
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.

Intimate Spaces
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.

Resource: HGTV.

Read more: Nature, Green Home Decor, Lawns & Gardens,

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).

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.

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Meditations on Design

Reinventing your home with style and now


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6:06PM PDT on Oct 4, 2012


8:12PM PDT on Sep 27, 2012


5:20PM PDT on May 7, 2012


5:08PM PDT on Oct 8, 2011

Thanks, Annie
Would we need to cnosider first and by help to resolve also more. Thanks again.

11:17PM PST on Feb 5, 2011


5:37AM PST on Dec 23, 2010

Thanks for the article.

3:01AM PST on Dec 23, 2010

thank you :) If my terrace is ever finished ..

5:08PM PST on Dec 22, 2010


4:39PM PST on Dec 22, 2010

Thanks for the info.

7:37AM PDT on Oct 26, 2010

Very nice ideas! My parents have a real large garden (two actually, one in the front of the house and a more private one at the back) and I love the little spaces they have created in there. Still, I definitely think that the tips you gave can add just that little extra to said spaces!

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