Room envy: Take breath of fresh air in this cozy, private courtyard

Atlanta architect Timothy Adams incorporated a gunite pool to add a calming, cool element
Photograph Emily Followill
Photograph by Emily Followill

Any outdoor room is nice, but a courtyard scores extra points. “It’s an exterior space that’s cozy and private,” says Atlanta architect Timothy Adams, whose patio design in Watercolor, Florida, is surrounded by the house. It has the comforts of an interior space, yet the plants, water feature, and sunlight all say “resort.”

Cover up
Slipcovers on the two sofas are made of weather-resistant fabric and can be removed for easy cleaning.

Disappearing doors
Bifolding doors make the transition from interior to exterior seamless. “They completely open up the wall to allow the inside to flow out,” Adams says.

Begonias and Bellinis
A multipurpose serving table/potting bench is cleverly tucked under a bay window. Its backsplash and countertop are made of Imperial marble, a rustic-elegant choice that should stand the test of time.

Soft edges
To break up the hard surfaces, Adams incorporated borders of river pebbles with liriope grass. Four large planters set the boundaries for a seating area.

Barefoot comfort
Adams chose limestone tile as flooring, which is light, airy, and cooler than a dark stone. Pea gravel would have been difficult to walk on or to place furniture on, the architect notes. And grass would have been impractical and tricky to grow.

Designer tip
“A water feature adds such a calming, cool element to an outdoor space,” Adams says. “And the gurgle of the water resonates and drowns out any distracting noises.” Adams chose a simple gunite pool with a recirculating pump and copper spouts, and kept it shallow. A mini pool is appropriate for young children and all the more enticing with the small bridge—so water lovers of all ages can dip a toe in.

This article originally appeared in our March 2015 issue.