Design Dilemma: Cool Courtyards
The wonderful thing about courtyards is that they literally bring the outdoors indoors. Indoor/outdoor living provides an integration and seamless contact with nature — blue sky and greenery. It’s a way to retreat from the demands of daily life without ever leaving home. Contemplation. Communion. An opportunity to take in a little bit of sun. We thought we’d take a look at some of our favorite courtyards to evaluate exactly what it is that makes them so cool.
There are a myriad of styles when it comes to courtyards, but one of the coolest is sleek, Mid-Century style. This one is minimal, calming and functional, incorporating a natural wood flooring and a bit of green with potted plants. Here’s a night view:
The Mediterranean-style courtyard is perhaps the best known style. It usually includes stucco walls, stone or terra cotta pavers, a water feature such as a fountain, and of course, vivid spots of color in the form of geraniums, bougainvillea plants and rose bushes. Above, the Spanish-style courtyard features both a sculpture and a fountain. And the one below includes a fountain and a fireplace:
Here’s another example:
Contemporary courtyards are sleek and minimal. It’s a bit of that “international” style. Decorative and design elements are fewer, and the space is allowed to just exist on its own, without too many distractions.
Here’s a night view:
Below, another courtyard that would fit into the contemporary category. A purple feature wall prevents the space from feeling too cold.
And here, another contemporary courtyard incorporates rusted corrugated metal for a weathered, industrial look.
The Japanese are masters at bringing a bit of nature indoors. Their courtyards often make use of raked gravel, a beautiful sculptural tree or bonsai plants and simple views that are meant to be contemplative and meditative. Below, the gravel in a courtyard is symbolic of water.
And the gravel theme is picked up again below in a courtyard also utilizing bamboo:
The courtyard below includes gravel, a waterfall, and lights in the shape of flowers.
As you can see, there are many courtyard style traditions to draw upon. If you’re lucky enough to have the space to incorporate a courtyard into your home, you can look forward to many years of enjoyment.