Where The Livin’ Is Easy

Summer's sunny days and cool mountain evening call for dips in the pool, lazing on lounge chairs and dining al fresco

Photo by Joel Riner Photography

Homeowners used to want a simple deck or patio. “Now they want outdoor rooms, says architect John Galambos, based in Aspen, Colorado. He created multiple such spots at a residence for one family, including areas to sit by the fire, dine, swim and lounge, all connected by walkways and plant-laden paths. “We are designing a lot more for the summer,” he says.

The key to making outdoor spaces livable is to think about their function and plan accordingly. The right mix of hardscape, furnishings, lighting and plants will smoothly connect the interior to the exterior of a residence. Places to cook and dine, have coffee or cocktails, watch the sunset and talk into the wee hours are all desirable amenities. Designers advise selecting furniture that is both durable and versatile so it can be moved around to accommodate different group sizes and purposes. Also consider sun exposure and add shade with umbrellas.

Here is a home with patios designed to provide both privacy and togetherness in the Idaho outdoors. The two projects that follow celebrate exceptional views from a hilltop residence in Whitefish, Montana, and the natural beauty surrounding a family’s Aspen getaway.


On a grassy site that slopes to the lake, the home’s multiple patios are landscaped with columnar junipers, boxwood and barberry shrubs. [Joel Riner Photography]

With its sloping lawn and idyllic lake views, this Northwest modern home in Coeur d’Alene offers a slice of summer paradise with multiple patios off living spaces and bedrooms. Architect Eric Hedlund made sure some of the outdoor spots have roofs for shelter, while others are open to the elements.

Lower level bedrooms feature walk-out patios with access to the putting green and lawn. Poured form concrete walls complement the home’s modern design aesthetic. [Joel Riner Photography]

Walkout bedrooms on the lower level have their own private patios with stairs connecting them to the other outdoor areas. In keeping with the project’s contemporary aesthetic, flooring surfaces and stepping-stone paths are in acid-etched concrete and walls are poured-form concrete. Boxwoods add a structured feel to the landscaping while also softening and providing visual separation to the spaces. Comfortable cushioned seating in neutral colors was used on both the main patio and for the chaise lounges and benches.

Sofas and chairs from Restoration Hardware provide spots for conversation and views of Lake Coeur d’Alene at this Black Rock vacation home. A custom fire pit helps take the chill off of cool evenings. [Joel Riner Photography]

Custom fire pits off the main patio and master bedroom create cozy gathering spots when the weather cools. Finally, for the golf-loving residents, a putting green was added to the lower level.

ARCHITECTURE Eric Hedlund Design LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE Place Landscape + Architects


Cushions provide a pop of color against the deck’s gray furnishings and flooring. [Gibeon Photography]

High above the town of Whitefish, Montana, a couple can’t get enough of the 180-degree views of nearby lakes and mountains from the upper deck that runs the length of their home. “Last July 4 we could see four fireworks displays,” says the homeowner. With a nod to the family’s enjoyment of cooking and entertaining, the kitchen was designed with a large accordion window that opens to the deck.

A sofa in front of the contemporary fire pit is a great place to enjoy Montana evenings. [Gibeon Photography]

Four stools outside await guests to sit, sip and chat with the cooks during meal prep. Close by are a gas grill and smoker. Gray composite decking complements the home’s contemporary design, as does the exterior reclaimed siding (“I like modern; my husband is more rustic,” she explains). Another unifying element is matching all-weather resin wicker fiber furniture for dining and lounging. To maximize the views, architect Rich Graves designed unobtrusive horizontal steel deck railings, and LED strip lighting was installed under the cap, casting a soft glow as night falls.

ARCHITECTURE Rich Graves, Altius Design Group LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE Bruce Boody Landscape Architect


Colorado buff sandstone was used on the pool deck surfaces. [Deborah Cota]

When it was time for a remodel of an Aspen home with great mountain vistas to the southwest, one of the goals was to connect the residence to the environment by incorporating the vital elements: earth, air, fire and water. The owners like spending summertime outdoors in Colorado, so they added a fireplace and grilling area, hot tub and pool, sitting areas, a firepit and naturalistic landscaping. They also wanted to connect an upper terrace and playroom with the patio spaces below, so steps were built into the lawn. Deck surfaces are in Colorado buff sandstone and Wild Horse moss rock.

Purple nepeta blooms andavena grass flumes sway in the summer air on a deck overlooking the pool patio at this Aspen getaway. [Deborah Cota]

Landscape designer Mary Bright used waves of perennials to provide color, divide the areas and soften the space to make it relaxing and inviting. Among the plants are blue avena, nepeta, salvia, yarrow, sedums and shrubs like cotoneasters. Aspen and amur maple trees create privacy and a cozy atmosphere without interrupting the views.

ARCHITECTURE Galambos Architects DESIGNER Elite Landworks

As seen in the July 2019 issue

SEE ALSO: Take it Outside: 5 Tips for Designing Your Patio

Categories: Outdoor Living