The ‘orig­i­nal out­door room’ be­com­ing pop­u­lar in homes

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - REAL ESTATE - By Melissa Kossler Dut­ton

The trend to­ward out­door liv­ing, which uses comfy seat­ing, bright rugs and weath­er­proof art to ex­tend the al­fresco sea­son at home, is bring­ing new at­ten­tion to a cen­turies-old ar­chi­tec­tural fea­ture: the court­yard.

“It’s the orig­i­nal out­door room,” said Philip Wed­dle, prin­ci­pal ar­chi­tect of Wed­dle Gil­more Black Rock Stu­dio in Scotts­dale, Ariz. “Court­yards are as much about en­rich­ing the in­door spa­ces as cre­at­ing amaz­ing out­door spa­ces. That blur­ring of the bound­ary be­tween in­doors and out makes the ex­pe­ri­ence of each space richer.”

Court­yards — a sta­ple in Ro­man, Mid­dle East­ern and an­cient Chi­nese ar­chi­tec­ture — are be­com­ing pop­u­lar in homes through­out the United States, builders and ar­chi­tects say.

As they have for thou­sands of years, court­yards of­fer a safe and pri­vate area for fam­i­lies and guests to gather. In ur­ban ar­eas, es­pe­cially, such se­cluded out­door space is rare. Court­yards in­crease the amount of liv­ing space in a home. And when de­signed right, they can cre­ate a cool­ing re­treat in warm cli­mates.

Im­prove­ments in re­tractable glass walls and slid­ing doors have helped make them more fea­si­ble.

“That technology has re­ally im­proved over the last decade,” Wed­dle said. “It re­ally does al­low you to open


This en­try court­yard is lo­cated in Par­adise Val­ley, Ariz. Plant­ings and paving stones in a front court­yard can re­duce the amount of wa­ter-guz­zling lawn.


This front gravel court­yard in Dal­las has a boul­der wa­ter fea­ture.

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