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Tips for Designing a Courtyard with Style

Is your San Diego area home built around a courtyard? Many Southern California homes use mission design and courtyards were quite popular back in the early days of the state so they are found commonly in the area. While they are quite functional and can be very pleasing to the eye, they are not always easy to furnish. We invite you to use these tips for designing a courtyard with style.

The Courtyard: a Definition

By definition, a courtyard is an outdoor space completely, or almost completely, enclosed on all four side. While those four sides are often comprised of the exterior walls of a home, they could also be made from a stand of closely planted trees or bushes, privacy fencing or masonry walls. In any case, the goal of a courtyard is to provide privacy.

No matter what the courtyard is surrounded by all courtyards tend to suffer from a lack of light, even if they do not include an overhead cover. That is one thing to take into consideration when designing a courtyard with style. Another thing to consider is the dimensions and scale. Some courtyards are long and narrow while others are square and still others incorporate a different shape, such as round or hexagonal. All those shapes require different design features to make the space appealing.

To Cover or Not to Cover?

Treasure Garden market umbrella
This Treasure Garden market umbrella is a classic that works well in nearly any backyard.

Courtyards that are not covered have an advantage in that they allow maximum light into the space. However, there are times when you may want a bit of shade or protection from the elements. If you do not want to undertake a major renovation, consider adding an outdoor umbrella or two. This is an ideal solution that allows you to decide when you want your courtyard covered, such as in the hot months of summer, and when you do not.

Formal or Informal?

Traditional courtyards tend to be more formal and geared toward adult entertaining. But there is no reason you cannot add a bit of playful fun to your outdoor space. You may want to forgo the traditional water fountain with statue smack dab in the middle and instead create a place for playing outdoor games.

Keep it to Scale

Signature bistro dining sets

As mentioned previously, scale is a very important design detail. You do not want to add furnishings that overtake the space nor fill the entire patio deck with plantings and tall trees. Think of the courtyard as your outdoor living room. Would it look better with sectional sofa at one end and a seating arrangement of chairs at the other end? Or is your courtyard smaller and better suited to one large area for relaxing and entertaining? As long as the scale is appropriate, you will be well on your way to designing a courtyard with style.

The Little Extras

Be sure to include the little extras that will really make your courtyard functional. Varying types of lighting are necessary to illuminate the space even on a dreary day. A fire feature will warm things up on a cold winter night. And lots of plantings will bring the landscape beyond the four walls of the courtyard into your outdoor living space.

We hope these tips for designing a courtyard with style have got you dreaming of all the ways you can transform your outdoor space into the perfect place for playing, entertaining and relaxing.