Draw inspiration from this trio of beautiful courtyards hidden across the South.
Most people think of courtyards as being in the back of a house, but actually they can be on the side or the front. This great
space in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is a forecourt―that is, it’s in the front and serves as the entry to the house. I love this because
it truly integrates the space into the home.
This great masonry arch and doorway are essentially the front door of the house, with the courtyard being the foyer to the home. The use of a door rather than a gate also elevates the space stylistically. If your house fronts a busy street, this solves two issues: First, the courtyard puts a bit more space between the street and the house, allowing it to sit farther back from the noise. Second, it makes your usable living space seem so much larger and will actually encourage you to use the space more.
See how great the view is as soon as you peek in the doors? I love the way the courtyard reveals itself only when the door is open. Selfish? Maybe, but I love the idea of keeping a bit of the beauty just for yourself and your guests. The lap pool acts as a water feature (a reflecting pool) as much as a spot for fun. Water always makes an outdoor area seem serene.
Courtyards are perfect for outdoor fireplaces because they provide warmth for cold-weather months, while the walls help to block chilly winds.
Yeah, I know that courtyards exist everywhere, but there is something so Southern about them. This one is quintessential Savannah.
It’s formal but not fussy. Walled only on three sides, it provides a view from the street. However, because this space is
more of a garden than a sitting area, it’s great window dressing for the house and contributes to the curb appeal.
The walkway forms a straight line that draws the eye down the garden, over the fountain, and to the statue in back. The statue acts as a terminus. It stops the eye and offers you something to focus on that has visual interest. It draws you into the space. I love this. Furthermore, by keeping everything very orderly and symmetrical, the space naturally seems a bit larger. Remember, clutter crowds.
The view from the porch is almost as nice as being in the space. The fountain sits in a reservoir, and as the water spills over the pot, the sound dampens street noise and creates another dimension of nature. A delightful side effect of a fountain in a walled garden is that the sound echoes off the walls and is amplified a bit.
When I first saw this space, I could have sworn it was in New Orleans, but it’s actually in Texas. It’s not large at all but
feels so lush and comfortable due to the heavy plantings that it feels cocooned. Sometimes you want to feel cozy, right?
Notice how close the neighboring house is just beyond the wall. Air circulation was an issue, especially in a Texas summer. The solution the homeowners came up with here is one of the best I’ve seen. They installed misters that gently spray the courtyard and keep inhabitants cool.
This undulating goldfish pool is probably my favorite feature here. Goldfish ponds are so much easier to maintain than most people think, and they add an element of life. We’ve all heard how watching fish reduces stress. Well, there you go! The homeowners kept this very natural and blended the pond into the surroundings so it’s like a little surprise for first-timers.
This courtyard is perfectly suited for intimate entertaining. It’s more about serenity than soirees. The plants help you to relax in what is actually an area with a very small footprint. In a sense, this is philosophically what a courtyard is all about to me. It’s a private, intimate spot to enjoy nature. They got it just right.