A home is so much more than just a house; it’s the people who live in it, their involvement with one another, and their relationships to the spaces the house offers. Some people gravitate toward kitchens, others are family room dwellers, and still others can most often be found in the study or office pouring over papers or reading a book. Recently, backyard rooms have become the rage because they extend the ways in which a family can relate to each other as well as to nature. Backyard rooms are so much more than yesteryear’s cement slab patio and a narrow porch. The concept has grown to include backyard kitchens and hearths, pools and water features, cozy nooks where secrets are shared, and even private areas containing daybeds for an afternoon snooze.
Indoor rooms are designed around their functions. Bedrooms contain closets and dressers as well as a bed, and the windows are curtained for privacy. The kitchen is the home’s warm heart, where meals are prepared and families gather to share meals. Finished basements are made for teen hangouts, game rooms, and maybe a craft center. Backyard rooms, like indoor rooms, should be designed around a particular purpose.
In order to create a private nook for reading, contemplating or sharing a little friendly gossip, a small bench nestled beneath a few tall shrubs does the trick. It’s even better if the shrubs are the blooming variety and better still if the flowers are fragrant. As flowering shrubs bloom at different times in the season, it’s a great idea to plant them to blossom in waves from early spring to late fall. Tucking the bench beneath a trellis upon which clematis, morning glories, or other blossoming beauties climb only enhances the magic.
A boring slab patio can be transformed into a gathering place for the cook, the family, and a neighborhood full of guests. Constructing a pergola atop a cooking area that contains a movable multipurpose grill as well as an outdoor dining table and plenty of seating is the easiest way. For families who spend most of the spring, summer, and fall outdoors, investing in a dramatic stone hearth with areas of grilling, a stone baking oven, and an open fireplace is worth the money. For do-it-yourself types, building such a warm family center can be a bonding activity that will provide warmth, meals, and pride for years to come.
Exercise and meditation done under a blue sky or a full moon takes on deeper meaning. Backyard rooms dedicated to space in which to stretch out, flex, and erase daily stresses will surely contain a water feature. A pond with a flowering lily pad or lotus flower that is surrounded by bog plants like irises will fill visitors with a sense of calm. Adding a waterfall contributes silvery flashes of light and tumbling sound. If a pond is impractical, even a birdbath or simple bowl of water in which a flower floats is a creative possibility.