Courtyards

Although any style of home could have a courtyard, those homes that reflect a Spanish or Mediterranean influence are best suited for this feature. Courtyards were originally a form of defense, and came after the age of large castles and fortresses, as there was still the idea that your home must be protected within four walls. Once fortification was no longer necessary, courtyards remained a staple in homes located in more tropical regions, as they provide a private outdoor retreat within the home. Today, courtyards are also great choices for lots in urban areas, where space and privacy may be in short supply. A courtyard also can buffer the main home from a detached guest suite to give privacy to an older child, in-law, or guest, making homes with courtyards great for multi-generational living.

The primary function of modern courtyards is to provide a lovely space for plants, water features, and paths. Typically rooms are placed off of the courtyard so each area of the house can easily access the outdoors. Install a sound system so music can permeate the space, and enhance the courtyard with a fountain, lush plants, stonework, sculpture, and benches tucked away in nooks. The courtyard is the heart of the home, a wonderful room to entertain guests or relax after a long day.

Mediterranean, Spanish, and Adobe homes often feature a courtyard, as this enhances their outdoor living appeal in a warm climate. The area closest to the kitchen could feature a small fireplace or chiminea for cool nights and a grill or even an outdoor kitchen with protection from the sun.

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