They can feel intimate, romantic, playful and generally oh so intoxicating. Perfect courtyards. My home sits on a couple of acres but do you think that stops me from wanting to eek out a small courtyard? No maam! Just as soon as I can get my husbands tools out of there (he knows I’m gunning for that space LOL). But what is it about courtyards that makes them alluring. I believe it has something to with that hidden away coziness while still being outdoors and connected to nature. We all need a little of that right? Of course you’ve answered yes so lets get to courtyard planning. The four key elements we need to consider are location, space, texture and lighting.
So you’re hunting around your yard. Where can you squeeze one in? You’d be surprised by the locations people find. Throw up a couple of screens next to a shed and you’ve started. Maybe a back corner of your garden or an unused spot down the side of your house. The key is to create privacy which can be achieved with screens, plants, a wall…. you get the idea. The location and function of your courtyard will probably define your space so take it into consideration. Is it straight off the beach? Add a lovely outdoor shower. Maybe it leads into your kitchen in which case potted herbs will serve you well. How would you like it to serve you? Did you need a quiet area for reading or a space for painting? And don’t forget about the view it might create from inside your home either.
When you’re designing a space that you intend on adding furniture to you should always start by drawing up a floor plan to avoid costly mistakes. It’s not hard. You could use one of the many online floor planning platforms available or some grid paper. Whatever you’re comfortable with. Draw up your space and take into account the entry points to the space, furniture locations including any large plants or fixtures and of course space to move around those items.
While you’re reviewing your location consider how it will fair in the elements. Does it get afternoon sun or require shielding from private eyes? Luxaflex have some wonderful outdoor rollers perfect to manage this or you could use trellis’. Do you need to position or select furniture appropriate for rainy days? The best advice here is to spend some time sitting in the space and imagine how you will use it and what needs to be accounted for. Here’s an example of what mine will look like.
Ready to get really creative? We’re going to layer your courtyard up with texture. Not just with accessories. Look at your walls, ceiling and floor. If you have reclaimed brick celebrate it. Maybe an elaborately framed mirror against a green wall. Hanging plants, woven outdoor rugs or pavers intermingled with ground covers. It will create a softness that encourages rest and is wonderful for the soul. It doesn’t need to be a rustic style to achieve texture either. You could create a contemporary courtyard that has just as much depth. Try to identify a style that will work with the rest of your home though.
When selecting your furniture and homewares make sure that they are suitable for the Australian elements or they will weather, get mouldy and generally not last. Furniture that is rated for the outdoors means your fabrics need to be UV resistant, foam should be a reticulated poly foam, and timber needs to be exterior grade (e.g. teak or kwila). When it comes to outdoor rugs there is a vast difference in quality available. The truth is that alot of the cheaper options are quite plastic looking. If you invest in a good quality outdoor rug such as an Armadillo, Albert and Dash or Bayliss rug you will not be disappointed.
Now once you’ve created your beautiful space I am sure you would like to enjoy it at night. Imagine summer nights with a pitcher of sangria under lights in your oh so cozy courtyard. So lets light it up. Generally my preference would be for soft ambient lighting and there are so many ways to achieve this. Of course it will be dependent on access to power however since we’re brainstorming we might as well take inspiration from these gorgeous courtyards. Have you thought of a space in your yard yet? I think it’s time to turn that dream into a beautiful courtyard for you. x