Architect Norman Askins and interior designer Craig Duncan share their design ideas behind this summer house backyard retreat.
Summer House Backyard Retreat with Checkered Floor
This summer house backyard retreat features a black and white checkered floor and pops of red.
| Credit: Erica George Dines

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.

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