Extending the Outdoor Season through Architecture


This week in New England, the temperatures have officially reached sweater weather, with lows gently dipping into the realm of crisp rather than merely cool. The fall shoulder season, however, isn’t the end of outdoor enjoyment—in fact, it can present some of the most comfortable times to gather outdoors. When we design a residence or renovate an existing property, we consider these opportunities early in our process in order to program exterior spaces that can be utilized in at least three seasons. Below, three key features to layer within an indoor/outdoor program and enjoy throughout the fall.

The three-season porch

Typically screened throughout spring, summer, and fall, the three-season porch aims to shield family and friends from insects while allowing them to enjoy the outdoors. A perennial favorite of our clients, we seek to place a three-season space relatively near to family gathering rooms for informal outdoor entertaining opportunities as weather cools. At times, screens may be swapped for storm windows to transform the space into a place that can be shielded from the elements year-round.  Whether programmed with a fireplace and conversation seating or outfitted with a whimsical porch swing or suspended bed, the three-season porch is a definitive fall favorite.

The open-air covered patio

We firmly believe that zoning, in many cases, dictates architectural design. In our projects, for example, we are often constrained by restrictions on a residence’s square footage. One way that we are able to circumvent that restriction is through the use of an open-air covered patio. By designing a pergola covered in romantic vines or architectural canopy which may be thematically relevant to the rooflines of the main house, an open-air patio can provide wonderful space within which to gather without taking away from interior square footage. By using popular gas patio heaters, these spaces can be warmed for evening entertaining even through cooler fall months.

The fire feature

It’s true—like moths to a flame, visitors are drawn to an exterior fire. Whether programmed as a stone-clad firepit with seating all around, or as a full fireplace with chimney rising above, a majority of our exterior living spaces include a fire feature. While a fireplace may be included as an element within the three-season porch or under a covered patio, more often than not these romantic outdoor hearths are designed to be true exterior destinations of their own. With a fire feature as part of the outdoor program, suddenly s’mores are roasted winter, spring, summer, and fall, and glasses of wine are raised to the hosts in front of a warm glow year-round.

If you’d like to improve your enjoyment of indoor/outdoor spaces through the fall and beyond, contact us to learn how we might approach your project. In the interim, we invite you to find inspiration in our portfolio.