When it comes to architectural panache, few features add gravitas to a home more eloquently than a courtyard. An open-air space surrounded by buildings or walls, courtyards are a stylish way to incorporate fresh air and sky views into the comforts of home. Though by no means a recent architectural concept, modern-day courtyards add both impact and functional living space to a property. Here are a few key considerations to keep in mind about these captivating home hallmarks.
Courtyards Through the Ages
Courtyards in homes can be traced as far back as 6400 BC in the Jordan Valley, and in many cultures, they were used as functional spaces for keeping fires for cooking. Traditionally found in warmer climates because they help create a cross-breeze, encourage air flow, and can be enjoyed all year round, courtyards have made a resurgence in modern living all over the world as relaxation and entertainment spaces. They’re an ideal solution for welcoming fresh air and natural light, and for creating space for gardening, lounging and dining, and integrating indoor/outdoor living.
Placing a Premium on Privacy
Not to be confused with atriums, which are usually enclosed indoor spaces with outdoor elements, courtyards are centered in the middle of the house and are fully open to the air, providing more privacy than a backyard or patio. Often accessible from many surrounding rooms in the home, a courtyard can act as an extension of indoor living space by carrying through a similar style, or offer respite as a well-designed escape.
Accounting for Nature
Los Angeles, California | Brooke Knapp, Sotheby’s International Realty – Beverly Hills Brokerage
When designing a courtyard, outside elements come into play. A preference for morning or evening light, for example, can determine the size and layout of a courtyard. It’s important to think about how the space will be accessed, and how it will affect movement through the house.
Sustainability is another consideration to keep in mind: courtyards present an opportunity for the implementation of environmentally friendly solutions like solar panels, rain barrels, and the planting of native species. Take advantage of your setting to create a well-placed, renewable retreat.
The best characteristic of a courtyard? It can be transformed to suit a myriad of uses. Whether you’re looking to design a tranquil sanctuary filled with lush greenery or a sleek entertaining space with room for outdoor dining and seamless access to the kitchen, a courtyard can be built to suit. Courtyards are equally as functional with a pool, spa, or water feature at hand as with an outdoor fireplace for warmth well into the night.
Getting the Details Right
A courtyard is the perfect space for reflecting personal taste, and as with any room in a home, the styling comes down to the details. Consider plants, seating, and lighting when laying out a courtyard to achieve your décor goals: trimmed topiaries, colorful garden beds, benches, and sconces can all set a tone, as can sculptures and flagstone. The selection of accent pieces can differentiate a Mediterranean-inspired oasis from a botanical garden or a modernist landscape, and the right choices will add comfort and ambience to your central outdoor space.
The courtyard is a feature that’s only gaining in popularity, and it’s easy to see why: a beautiful, private outdoor space at home is always a joy. Whether a courtyard is a must-have for your next luxury property or you’re gathering inspiration for your current grounds, they are a design essential that round out any home.
For more luxury properties with stunning outdoor spaces to admire, find inspiration from these top listings.