Summer House Backyard Retreat

Architect Norman Askins and interior designer Craig Duncan share their design ideas behind this summer house backyard retreat.
Story by Jennifer Kopf

1. Add architectural interest to the exterior.
"It's important to take design cues from the main house," says Norman. Keep elements consistent with your home and its surrounding features.

2. Use an unexpected material on the floor.
Marble is used for outdoor fountains and planters, so why not a covered-porch floor? A graphic black-and-white check is striking and sophisticated.

3. Bring the comfort of the indoors outside.
"Outdoor rooms can be just as stylish as indoor rooms," says Craig. Give your covered porch the feel of a true living room with upholstered furniture. Choose woods that hold up to the elements, such as teak and mahogany, and use outdoor-grade batting and foam.

4. Get bold with a signature color.
You can never go wrong with lots of white on a porch, but add punch with accents of a strong color. A coat of marine varnish over brightly painted furniture increases its durability.

5. Pay attention to the details.
Trims such as box-pleated grosgrain, gimp, and fringe upgrade plain outdoor pillows to star status.

Get the Look:
Lantern | Nantucket Lantern (9130 3c), $875; solaria-home.com
Bench | Chippendale Garden Bench in Dark Red (46931), $299; grandinroad.com
Ottoman fabric | Bolton in Putty (W8452); thibautdesign.com
Furniture paint | Mai Tai (RLIB228); ralphlaurenhome.com
Stool | Diamond-Pattern Stool (W5398), $275; wisteria.com
Mirror | Observatory Mirror in White, $299; potterybarn.com

Architect: Norman Askins, Norman Davenport Askins Architect, Atlanta; normanaskins.com or 404/233-6565. Builder: Rex Friedlein, Pupshire Builders, Atlanta; 404/876-1598. Interior designer: Craig Duncan, C.W. Duncan Designs, Atlanta; cwduncan@gmail.com or 404/374-1641. Hanging lantern: Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts Inc., Atlanta; boxwoodsonline.com. Bergère chairs: custom by C.W. Duncan Designs, Atlanta; cwduncan@gmail.com or 404/374-1641. Pillow trims: Lewis & Sheron Textiles; lsfabrics.com. Stool: Drum Garden Stool in White (1254WT) by Emissary (emissaryusa.com), available through decor-decor.com. Side table paint: Hearty Orange (SW 6622); sherwin-williams.com. Table lamps: custom-made from antique ginger jars, available through Lamp Arts, Inc., Atlanta; lampartsinc.com.