Most people conceive of an outdoor room as a porch, screened or not, attached to the house. If just one side is open to the elements, it hardly feels like outdoors at all. Three open sides and we really start to feel the connection with our surroundings. We are projected out into the landscape, but there’s still a strong connection to the house.
Just as with interior rooms, if you can’t see an outdoor space or if it’s too much out of the way, it won’t be used very often. But make the space easily seen and accessible, and it will be frequently used.
For a true outdoor room, the components are the same as for one that’s indoors: some walls, a floor, and a ceiling.
In a landscape, walls can be high or low, of hard materials or soft. Outdoor flooring can be made of wood, stone, tile, or even grass. The out-of-doors equivalent to a ceiling could be a trellis, a pergola, a garden house, an arbor, a tree canopy, or the sky itself.
Adapted with permission from Outside the Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka and Julie Moir Messervy, published by The Taunton Press (2006).