With some planning and design, you can create a new outdoor room or renovate the existing to better work with the way you live.

Creating a new outdoor room

Double Duty: Use a garden wall with a rebar headdress as art and to hide a pool-side outdoor shower. (Steven Gunther, Sunset Magazine)

When thinking about changes to make to your yard, consider adding architecture to create scale, focal points, vertical interest and shelter.

There’s a broad range of options, from a light-filtering pergola to a completely covered patio where you can entertain in most weather.  A fairly simple solution is to leave the patio open for furniture and use a screening wall to provide texture and color.  Outdoor kitchens and grills are a popular addition, even including wood burning pizza ovens.  Fireplaces create a romantic campfire feel and can transform a patio into a retreat.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to the materials you can use. Take advantage of architecture salvage yards to locate old window sashes. They can be used to transition from one space to the next. Using mahogany or teak wood for the flooring on a covered patio is an unexpected but beautiful option for a special area. The choices for stone, brick, and concrete pavers can be dizzying. The right combination of pattern, texture, and color can change the whole style and character of a space.

As you take inventory about how you truly want to live in your outdoor room, pay attention to types of activities such as playing, eating, sitting, cooking, and/or entertaining.  Also give thought to the times of day your yard will be used most often and whether or not you need shade or weather protection.

Creating an outdoor patio

A covered patio with outdoor fireplace is a welcomed retreat year-round. (Thomas J. Story, Sunset Magazine)

Are you a gardener who likes to tinker and spend time tending to your perfect rows of parsnips?

Or would you rather be laying around the pool while your low maintenance landscape gently moves with the breeze?

Outdoor rooms are a great asset to any property. Enlist the help of a professional landscape architect to make the most of your plans and you will have an enjoyable space for years to come.

Dallas Architect Laura Davis, AIA is Vice President and Director of Marketing at HPD Architecture. She and her partners offer custom design services for residential, commercial, and institutional projects in the North Texas, Dallas area. For more information please call  214.751.2300.