Design Dilemma: Cool Courtyards | Home Design Find

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Design Dilemma: Cool Courtyards

the open house

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.

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-Century Modern Renovation

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:

Mid-Century Modern Renovation


Pebble Beach Landscapes

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:

3. Rancho Retreat

Here’s another example:

A Spanish Revival/ Spanish Colonial


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.

Belfast Residence

Here’s a night view:

Belfast Residence

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.

Wolf Creek


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.

Eichler Atrium

And the gravel theme is picked up again below in a courtyard also utilizing bamboo:

Asian Landscape

The courtyard below includes gravel, a waterfall, and lights in the shape of flowers.

Woodland Zen Retreat

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.

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