Open Garden Design

Every luxury home should have a luxury outdoor room to go with it. When you think “outdoor room,” you may think of a sunroom, shaded deck, or specific seating area designed to resemble an indoor space; however, your outdoor room does not have to be limited to just one section of your backyard. Every aspect of your property is a component of your outdoor room and plays an important role in defining how it will be used.

An outdoor room can include numerous amenities, such as a pool, outdoor kitchen, lounge area, patio, garden, pergola, etc. Much like an open concept floor plan, all the sections of your backyard can be interconnected while still serving a designated purpose.

We will explore several al fresco room styles to show you some of the many ways you can make the most of your property. From a custom-designed pool to a cutting garden to a fabulous outdoor kitchen, these properties are the epitome of a luxury outdoor room.

Pool, Spa, and Landscaping


The outdoor dining areas were placed close to both the indoor and outdoor kitchens so that food could be prepared and served easily without having to carry it a far distance. Since the homeowners did not plan to swim or lounge poolside on a regular basis, the pool was placed further from the house near the property’s former rose garden, which was already graded to accommodate the large space required for a pool. The spa was situated near the gym so the owners could relax after workouts.

With a large property like this, Hess stresses the importance of creating harmony: “Developing a cohesive feel almost becomes a requirement for the project to turn out successfully. Utilization of common materials and strategically repeating certain plantings becomes key to developing a consistency throughout the property.”

Pennsylvania bluestone was incorporated into the decking, retaining wall caps, and the coping of the pool and spa. A mixture of ashlar cut and random/irregular Pennsylvania bluestone was also used for the walkways, while red cedar was chosen for both the fencing and pergola.

Landscaping played a major role is this outdoor room. A beautiful variety of River Birch, White Paper Birch, Boxwood, ‘Miss Kim’ Lilac, Cherry Laurel, Peony, Hosta, and Catmint were planted around the spa. Ivy Geranium produces the purple flowers in the planters by the water feature, and bentgrass was planted on the terraces. Since the homeowners are typically away during the summer months, the plantings were selected primarily for a combination of springtime display color and four-season evergreen structure.


Outdoor Décor and Water Features

Décor is another consideration when creating an outdoor room. Items such as planters, fountains, statues, lighting fixtures, outdoor rugs, and furniture all help to define the theme of your outdoor room. “Many of the antique sculptural elements seen in this garden were sourced by the homeowners during their travels,” says Hess. “This provided another way for them to truly personalize their outdoor space.”

The statue/water feature and pond form a lovely focal point in front of the seating area, which is separate from the pool and spa. These features add a decorative element to this particular section of the backyard where guests can dine and socialize and the homeowners can simply relax.

“Thematically, water is an important part of the overall property design,” Hess explains. “The relative remoteness of the pool and spa from the main exterior areas created an opportunity to incorporate water closer to the house, but in a way that didn’t feel forced. The tiered fountain became a focal point for two of the outdoor rooms, and continues the thematic presence of water throughout the entire backyard.”

Photo courtesy of Hess Landscape Architects, Inc.; Photography by Andre Baranowski Photography

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