The great outdoors

Outdoor living spaces continue to rank high on most homeowners’ wish lists. The desire to incorporate a functional outdoor entertaining area into the overall home design appeals to virtually all segments of the market.

By Larry Garnett, FAIBD, House Review Lead Designer | May 22, 2013

Outdoor living spaces continue to rank high on most homeowners’ wish lists. The desire to incorporate a functional outdoor entertaining area into the overall home design appeals to virtually all segments of the market. Although the swimming pool remains one of the main focal points, large porches with fireplaces, kitchens, and expansive dining areas have become favorite outdoor gathering spots for family and friends. In addition to these public spaces, private porches accessible only from the master suite provide secluded retreats. Of course, landscaping and walkways add the finishing touches to these inviting areas.

On the following pages you’ll see a variety of concepts from our design team, each with a unique, yet functional blending of indoor and outdoor living areas.
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Pollard Place

Rick Garza
RPGA Design Group, Inc.
817.332.9477 x206
Plan size
Total: 4,105 sf 
Garage: 802 sf
Today’s space for entertaining is quite a bit different from years past. The area calls for the ability to cook, relax, and spend time with family and friends. Extending this location to the outdoors calls for developing spaces that interact and act as an extension of the indoors, while at the same time functioning well independently. The pool deck is divided into sections that usher in the colors from grass and potted plants, creating the appearance of the hardscape blending with the landscape.

This home was designed with an in-law suite that is private but is still in close proximity to all entertainment areas. A covered porch for seating connects the suite with the remainder of the home. No entertainment area is finished without a cooking space. The cooking area on the patio is adjacent to the kitchen for quick cleaning and refreshments. A lounge area with direct sunlight around the pool also has been provided. In addition, having large storefront windows and doors that open the inside to the outside can make this space larger for entertainment purposes and easy access to necessities.

A. Covered porch with direct access to private guest room and bath
B. Patio with cooking space adjacent to kitchen 
C. Lounge seating area around the pool
D. Master suite has direct access to patio
E. Storefront windows and doors open up the living and dining room to outdoor space for entertaining



Casa Linda

Donald F. Evans, AIA
The Evans Group

At 7,635 square feet this custom home has all of the extras, including varied outdoor living spaces around the pool environment overlooking the lake beyond. This home is perfect for a weekend with the children, a romantic evening for two, or a full-blown party for all of your friends.

A. Covered veranda accessed from the master retreat, which is totally separate, creating the perfect oasis for the owners; veranda also connected to the main outdoor area and covered ramada by stepping stones across the pool
B. Covered ramada off the café, leisure room, and gentlemen’s lounge—the informal entertaining zone of the home
C. Covered ramada features indoor quality furniture, two-sided fireplace, television in the cabinet above, and grill
D. Swim-up bar in the pool with stools for seating and a trellis pergola above  
E. Second-floor covered deck for the secondary suites upstairs




GMD Design Group
Scott Gardner, 919.320.3022
Donnie McGrath, 770.375.7351
Plan size
Total: 4,200 sf

Outdoor courtyards are perfect for outdoor dining and social interaction. While popular in the West and Southwest, they are less commonly seen in cooler climates. With design trends favoring stronger indoor-outdoor connections, a courtyard can be utilized as a hub to link multiple spaces of the interior and exterior of the home in moderate climates, too.
This home in Maryland illustrates how a courtyard can increase the amount of time spent enjoying the outside of the home. The south-facing courtyard with outdoor fireplace provides warmth and protection from the north winds of fall and winter. In the summer, the deciduous trees and wraparound porch provide shade for enjoying the outdoors. In addition, this home provides a rear deck for taking in the eastern morning sunshine.

The key is providing multiple locations that allow the homeowner the flexibility to adapt to weather conditions and encourage appreciation of both the indoors and outdoors.

A. Wraparound porch to welcome visitors and provide shaded area 
B. Seating areas on covered porch
C. Outdoor dining area, typically facing south
D. Outdoor seating and living area
E. Open courtyard
F. Outdoor cooking areas
G. Outdoor fireplace
H. Multiple access doors to courtyard to maximize indoor-outdoor connection
I. Outdoor dining deck adjacent to breakfast area


The Hendrick

Alan Mascord
Alan Mascord Design Associates

Plan size
Total: 5,266 sf
Main floor: 3,506 sf
Lower floor: 1,760 sf
Garage: 708 sf

Designed for extended families and multigenerational households, the Hendrick pays close attention to detail in order to fit multiple lifestyles seamlessly. Five bedrooms, dual masters, an office, games room, and large farmhouse kitchen provide all of the amenities a large household needs to live together peacefully. A mix of public and private porches invite homeowners and guests to enjoy the outdoors just as much as the interior of this gorgeous home. If you’re a gourmet chef, the three-season, covered porch with a built-in barbecue and fireplace will likely be your favorite part of this Northwest ranch style.

A. Four porches and a patio connect interior to outdoors
B. Three-season porch with barbeque and fireplace for year-round enjoyment
C. Master bath opens up to large hot tub deck
D. Expansive windows show off the view
E. Front porch leads directly to the kitchen
F. Private porch for each master bedroom



Todd Hallett, AIA, CAPS
TK Design & Associates
Plan size
Living area: 1,884 sf
Porches: 141 sf
Garage: 716 sf

The best outdoor spaces are those that blend architecture with nature, blurring the line between in and out. This home was designed in a golf course community for empty nesters who have family to entertain. The attached guest house provides a perfect touch of privacy while creating dramatic outdoor-indoor spaces.

A. Entrance tower creates buffer zone for public and private outdoor spaces
B. Trellis adds sense of procession and importance to entrance
C. Adding areas of landscape softens the courtyard and provides an opportunity for color
D. Guest house looks into courtyard space
E. Outdoor fireplace adds scale and creates a buffer to define courtyard
F. Two-way fireplace adds drama to both the inside and outside
G. Large exterior sun deck provides a great platform for entertaining and becomes an outdoor living room
H. Covered porch acts as a transition between indoor and outdoor space


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