Our Favorite Outdoor Living Elements


A tremendous way to increase a home’s square footage without augmenting its literal footprint is to plan outdoor living spaces, additional exterior living rooms that can work year-round, even in cooler climates.  As we design our clients’ homes, we think about these spaces early in the process in order to specify programming that can be utilized in every season.  Below, some of our favorite elements to layer within the outdoor living room, plus a new discovery we’ve been excited to incorporate into our homes.

Lighting a fire

Nothing has the power to draw a group together outside like a roaring fire.  As a result, whether programmed as a full fireplace with a chimney or a stone-clad firepit, a majority of our exterior living rooms include a fire feature.  In outdoor spaces with bluestone underfoot, we typically repeat that material in coping atop the firepit or possibly as a mantle on a stone fireplace.  Whether constructed to burn gas or wood and set inside a three-season porch, positioned under a partially covered pergola, or set as a destination of their own, these romantic outdoor hearths are crowd-pleasing features that are typically surrounded by comfortable seating for conversation and entertaining.

Covered porches are a continuation of a home’s living space and provide an outdoor retreat where homeowners can relax and entertain al fresco. With the fires’ light and added warmth, homeowners can enjoy these outdoor spaces in cooler weather and later into the evenings.

Feeding the senses

When it comes to the exterior kitchen, the sky is the limit.  Situated under a pergola of climbing vines or sited in the open air, we encourage clients to think beyond a traditional BBQ with an eye towards premium built-in grills and beverage fridges that make the kitchen feel authentic to the space.  Building in appliances and spaces to warm cooked food or hold chef’s tools and serving pieces, this outdoor kitchen can become the main cooking and dining area when weather permits.  As a result, It’s especially important to consider the relationship of the home’s main kitchen to this particular outdoor space so that logistical issues can be minimized and flow is seamless.

To facilitate easy interaction, we suggest a seated bar or island adjacent to the cooking area, enabling guests to effortlessly socialize with the host while they prepare hors d’oeuvres or dinner.

The allure of water

Overlooking an expansive view or tucked within the privacy of a garden, a swimming pool can provide a wonderful family-focused summertime entertaining space.  With the addition of a spa or hot tub, the pool can become a year-round feature.  When site constraints or client requests don’t permit a full pool, we consider exploring the Soake Pool as an exterior water feature.  Smaller in scale and an ideal complement to our timeless architecture, Soake Pools are an innovative and cost-effective way to add a water element to our properties, with customization options that allow the unit to blend completely with other exterior programming in terms of fit, character, and theme.

At a country homestead horse farm that we recently reimagined, we designed this Soake Pool with a dry set look New England Fieldstone veneer base with antique granite steps and variegated stone coping.  The interior tile matches not only the Fieldstone on the pool surround but also the ancient stone walls throughout the property.  The stone terrace around the pool also incorporates large irregular dry set walls that suggest the outdoor living space has been here for generations.
A Soake pool or Olympic size, the water feature and its surrounding outdoor space provide homeowners with a wonderful sensory experience and a welcome relief from the summer heat.

Extras that count

It’s not one particular item that makes or breaks an exterior living roomit’s the sum of parts together en plein air that creates moment after moment of delight.  We consider additional elements including sculpture, specimen plantings, a gazebo, a quiet seating area, and more in order to optimize outdoor living and client enjoyment.

A well-designed outdoor entertaining area can be as comfortable and inviting as its indoor counterpart.

Considering augmenting your own outdoor living room?  Contact us to learn how we would approach the transition between interior and exterior to optimize flow and family living.  In the interim, we invite you to find inspiration in our portfolio.