Designing Exterior Living

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Dallas Architect shares ideas for designing exterior living spaces to be as enjoyable as your interiors.

One of the biggest obstacles to really being able to enjoy the outdoors in the South is the heat we get in the summer.  And possibly even worse, the humidity that accompanies it.  Fortunately, there are some options for cooling your space so you can spend time outside comfortably.

Designing exterior living spaces

Large side post umbrella from

Naturally, having a shaded area is a simple solution, at least simple in that it blocks the sun.  How you achieve that is where the simple becomes challenging.

Your options range from either a completely covered porch with ceiling fans and lights, or just a pergola that still lets some light through but still provides plenty of shade.  A project that has some design flexibility, may opt to locate the building and/or trees to provide plenty of shade on the outdoor living spaces.

If you prefer a portable solution, go the simple route of an umbrella.  Select one that’s appropriately sized for your deck or patio.  An umbrella that is out of proportion to your seating arrangement will look awkward and be ineffective.  Consider a side post umbrella if you want shade but not the center post of a traditional umbrella.

Home misting system

Cool mist fan from

Another option that is surprisingly inexpensive is using a misting system or misting fan to help cool the air down around you. You see these on restaurant patios, but you may not have considered it for your own outdoor space. When researching this topic for the podcast, we found a couple sites with good information:

To hear more tips for outdoor living, tune into The Architecture Happy Hour podcast with Laura Davis, AIA and Larry Paschall, AIA.

Dallas Architect Laura Davis, AIA is a Principal and Director of Marketing at HPD Architecture. She and her partners offer custom design services and love designing exterior living for residential clients in the North Texas, Dallas area.


VP, Architect, hpd architecture + interiors
Laura Davis is a Texas and Colorado registered architect and interior designer, and a co-founder of hpd architecture + interiors. With a diverse portfolio spanning residential, commercial, retail, and historical projects, Laura’s heart lies with her specialty in Historic Preservation. She loves to revitalize older properties, cherishing their character and the stories they hold. Her true passion lies in understanding her clients deeply, uncovering their desires and motivations, and crafting designs that turn houses into cherished homes.

Laura Davis is a registered architect and interior designer in the state of Texas and Colorado, and a founding member of hpd architecture + interiors. Laura's extensive experience includes residential as well as commercial and retail projects.  She also has a particular interest in restoration, holding a certificate in Historic Preservation. She is energized by the character of older homes and the stories of those who have lived there. Responding to the needs of the current owner, while also honoring the personality of the original home is a delicate process to be enjoyed.

Laura Davis

Vice President, Architect, Interior Designer Principal , hpd architecture + interiors


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