Tag Archives: outdoor living

Outdoor Entertaining

Outdoor Entertaining

Summertime: when alfresco is in

Summer is the time for alfresco entertaining and is the season we use our outdoor living space to its fullest. Whether it’s a large affair on the grill or a small, informal gathering, there is a special ease to outdoor entertaining that we treasure during these fleeting months of summer.

The term alfresco is derived from Italian meaning “ in the open air,” and while it can refer to any outdoor activity, it’s most often associated with dining.

We frequently discuss the importance of easy indoor-outdoor living with our clients and detail various design solutions in our book, Timeless. Many of our clients want homes that feel intimate, yet are ready to entertain large groups year-round – especially in the summertime.

Creating an easy transition from indoors to out makes alfresco entertaining seamless for homeowners. We regularly activate ground floors by connecting them directly to the home’s outdoor living spaces. A first-floor room may open directly to a covered porch which transitions effortlessly to a pool terrace – becoming an outdoor dining room of its own.

Depending on the program, we often create layers of outdoor spaces that offer homeowners lively, multifunctional gathering options. Sometimes that means designing an outdoor kitchen and fireplace alongside a large dining area, while also creating more intimate, hidden seating spaces to enjoy with smaller groups.

Some of our clients wish to integrate lawn games into their outdoor entertaining repertoire. In such cases, we like to create an easy connection between the lawn area and the grilling, beverage, and dining spaces.

This two-way fireplace in the outdoor kitchen provides an inviting connection between the bocce court and dining area

When summer evening temperatures drop, that does not mean that outdoor entertaining must come to an end. Warm and inviting flames from an outdoor fireplace (or fire pit) offer a wonderful place to congregate. Homeowners can encourage guests to linger by bringing blankets outside or toasting marshmallows over the fire. Candlelit tables and outdoor lighting also enhance the inviting ambiance.

Well-designed outdoor entertaining areas can be as comfortable and inviting as their indoor counterparts. With layered spaces and easy access to grilling and entertaining, outdoor living areas provide boundless opportunities for alfresco fun.

Pool Time

Pool Time

The Summer Spot to Cool Off and Entertain

With New England’s recent heatwave, residential swimming pools have been a topical subject among our friends and clients. Not only do they offer convenient, inviting relief from the summer heat, they also provide homeowners with a focal point for outdoor living and entertaining.

There are myriad options for pool design, and we take our cues from several sources. Because the pool is an extension of the home, we first consider the building’s architectural character. We then look at the outdoor topography for any space restrictions, and whether the area lends itself to a certain shape or design. If we envision a more organic feel, the pool may take on a free-form shape to blend with the outdoor environment. Alternately, if the space calls for a more traditional or sleek look, we may recommend a rectangular design.

When appropriate, we may also include an infinity design where the water flows freely over the edges. These vanishing edges give the visual impression that the pool has no boundaries – or is magically connected to the nearby ocean.

If the homeowner has an extended family with children or grandparents, we often design the pool with a wide entry and gentle pitch for easy access.

For all designs, we recommend using gunite for its exceptional versatility. Gunite is a mixture of sand and cement shot through a hose and does not produce seams like traditional, poured concrete.

No matter the size or shape of the pool, it is important to create an inviting common gathering space to be enjoyed day or night. That means judicious consideration of hardscaping, lighting, and congregation areas. To merge the indoor and outdoor living space, we use bluestone edges or coping to blend in with the adjacent patio or terrace.

We also carefully select the pool’s lighting, which sets an important tone, particularly in the evening. Including fun and welcoming gathering spots – such as hot tubs and fire pits – helps transform the pool area into the optimal summer gathering space.

Water features are also meaningful elements – both aesthetically and from a functional standpoint. For example, within an urban setting or dense courtyard, the soothing sounds of waterfalls or jet sprays help create a sense of relaxation and privacy.

A well-designed pool area can transform any outdoor living space into a summer oasis. Whether lounging our entertaining, a pool and its surrounding outdoor space provide homeowners with a wonderful sensory experience – and a welcome relief from the summer heat.

Embracing Chilly June in New England

Embracing a Chilly June in New England

What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?
-John Steinbeck

We use a combination of gas and wood-fueled fireplaces

Here in New England, we’ve had a long winter and chilly spring – and the start of June has followed suit. But, we New Englanders are a resilient bunch, familiar with this unpredictable prelude to summer. We find ways to connect our indoor and outdoor living space as much as possible – even when the weather doesn’t always cooperate. In fact, a particularly cool spring may inspire us to use our outdoor areas even more frequently.

Today, we will share some of our favorite ways to connect the comfort of indoors to our outdoor living spaces during June’s cooler evenings and throughout the months ahead.

When we design a home, we like to encourage easy indoor-outdoor living. There are several ways to create and expand a homeowner’s living space including light-filled, three season rooms, intimate covered porches and richly appointed outdoor entertaining areas.

The three season room – sometimes referred to a sunroom – is typically enclosed in glass and provides an immediate visual connection to the outdoors. It is weather resistant (not weather proof) and provides a wonderful, gradual transition from the house to the outdoors. In warmer weather, the glass can be removed and replaced with screens, allowing summer air to circulate throughout.

Covered porches represent another continuation of a home’s living space and provide an outdoor retreat where homeowners can relax and entertain al fresco. Depending on our client’s program, we often include a fireplace in this space to create an inviting and cozy outdoor oasis.

Some of our homes include both an outdoor fireplace and fire pit, which provide social seating areas for multiple guests or generations. With the fires’ light and added warmth, homeowners can enjoy these outdoor spaces in cooler weather – and later into the evenings.

Outdoor entertaining has never been more popular, and for many clients, the backyard living space is the new seasonal living room. Therefore, our design goal is to create an inviting retreat that offers not just one experience, but rather numerous opportunities for passive and active outdoor living. By using the home’s topography, we create multiple levels of outdoor enjoyment – from porches and gardens to fireside seating – which homeowners can use throughout the seasons.

We all appreciate that wonderful connection to the outdoors, even when the weather is brisk. So enjoy your special gathering spots – before long the heat of summer will be at our doorstep.