Some of the loveliest, most charming rooms you will ever visit are not inside a house.
They are outdoors, rooms without walls that extend a welcome far beyond the boundaries of partitions or ceilings.
Instead of a roof, imagine a pergola of lush purple wisteria wending overhead. Rather than a floor of wood or carpet, there are weathered pavers or soft, velvety grass. In place of walls, visualize a garden lattice or a porch railing—or nothing at all.
After a long winter, an outdoor room lets you feel the gentle kiss of spring. Chairs and tables pop up like crocuses bursting through the sod after a long nap. We gather around a fire pit to remind ourselves that warmer weather is coming and we soon will be spending more time outdoors.
Porches are among the most inviting outdoor rooms. They inspire us to chat with neighbors. We connect with the child inside us by taking a turn on the porch swing. We soothe our souls in rockers, feel the stress of the day melt away with each creaking movement.
These outdoor rooms have been designed by the pros, including spaces by Bernardon, an architecture, interior design and landscaping design firm in Kennett Square. Other spaces are a gift from Mother Nature, as shown at Lavender Fields at Warrington Manor in Milton. Some are in grand homes, where outdoor rooms expand entertaining beyond the house and onto the terrace or beside the pool.
These al fresco rooms can be as formal or relaxed as you wish. A hammock slung between two trees is an impromptu bedroom. A primitive fireplace or a fully equipped grill station with refrigeration and running water can both serve as outdoor kitchens. Family rooms might range from a circle of Adirondack chairs on the bank of a lake to an expansive deck with opulently upholstered furniture, carpets and jardinières of exotic plants.
Controlling the climate of outdoor rooms does not require a sophisticated HVAC system. A simple fan or the cooling trickle of a fountain will suffice. Or you can just sit back and wait for the next gentle breeze.
Looking for ideas for your outdoor room? Public places provide abundant inspiration with open-air spaces you can reinterpret at home.
Wineries and farms that host events offer a cornucopia of natural settings for guests to savor. Stroll the grand expanses of Winterthur to discover vignettes that can take root in your personal plot of green at home. Inhale the scent of plantings indigenous to Delaware’s piedmont at Mt. Cuba and learn about native species that will thrive in your own backyard.
You can gather a bouquet of thoughts on home and garden tours. Wilmington Garden Day, which first bloomed in 1947, takes place on May 6; the 27th Annual Lewes Garden Tour is slated for June 17.
We hope these outdoor rooms will delight you—and inspire you to create a place that blossoms at your home.