Entry courtyards and arrival courts have become increasingly popular with owners of high-end luxury homes. They originally rose to prominence in the southwest, where they offer ventilation and cooling properties, but are growing in prominence throughout the country – including Maryland – thanks to their unique visual aesthetics that hark back to classic architecture.
These open air, outdoor extensions of your interior living space call to mind the town square structure of yesteryear, offering a gathering place for family and friends, and a staggering first impression for first-time visitors.
Done properly, they can add a wealth of curb appeal.
Most importantly, they provide guests with a preview of sorts of the main event – your home – by crafting a sense of mystery and anticipation as they travel the driveway to the front door.
And while entry courtyards came into their own in more arid climates, they are adaptable to any style of home, whether modern or classic, and are a perfect complement to the snow-covered holiday homecomings of the Northeast.
Common features include:
- Enclosure – A sense of comfortable isolation is part and parcel with courtyards. An enclosure does not need to be four sided, and does not even have to include walls. It simply suggests a border between your home and the outside world. Entry courtyards can be gated, doored, or blocked off with shrubs and other native plantings.
- Hardscaping: Paved patios and walkways add to the durability of your courtyard, while limiting the routine maintenance required. Choose from any number of construction materials, including:
- Natural Stone
- Water features – The trickling of water, along with the mystique created by your enclosure, contributes to your visitors’ anticipation and wonder. Water features also help to combat the sounds of nearby traffic and other noise pollution. But consider proportion. A massive fountain would be misplaced in a modest entry courtyard. Don’t overwhelm – or undersell – your layout.
- Décor and finishing touches: No roof means the sky’s the limit. Courtyards are often adorned with cozy furniture and floral touches. Again, size matters. Private seating is a good idea, whether that means a solitary hardscaped bench, a sectional sofa, or seating built into stone or brick walls.
Potted plants, too, are ideal, as are climbing vines for more rustic designs. Let your green thumb – or that of a professional horticulturist – create the theme, and convey the spirit of your home and family.
As cooler weather settles in, so will your winter guests with the addition of a custom fireplace or firepit. Lighting, too, is essential – and fun at this festive time of year. Deck the halls with holiday string lights, and don’t forget the Christmas tree.
Is an entry courtyard on your list this year? McHale Landscape Design can help make it a reality. Contact us today.