Design - Trending..Courtyards

Courtyards Provide An Allure - An Escape

The Above: Upper East Side, New York  by Steven Harris Architects

Years ago while in Milan, Italy and walking along the streets I noticed the walled spaces and driveways with large doors...Then, an opportunity arose.  Beautiful men in Maserati's were entering a location that was an Armani office.  I, of course, peeked inside as the cars entered the space and glimpsed the stunningly gorgeous and well-designed courtyard within.  

It was a whole other world away from busy streets and traffic....I was immediately captivated and inspired.  Of course, I have visited other properties with beautiful courtyards but this one has stood out in my mind and always will.  

Courtyards  - whether Armani or a humble abode provide added value to the owners and visitors experience. More than is understood at the planning stage of a project but professionals must be able to emphasize the importance. I hope to persuade you to do so....

Lately, I have been noticing courtyards included in luxe properties and new developments.  Since real estate in these areas is at a premium, every square foot must be considered and a courtyard seems a luxury but in fact, provides transcendence from life's distractions and stresses.  It sets the mood or tone as someone is traversing from the outside and into a property or provides a moment of solitude, a calmness at the heart of the property

There was no mistake when I saw the Armani courtyard in Milan that this property OF COURSE was the epitome of design, understanding the interaction of design and how deeply it affects each of us.

But a courtyard can be humble and  I work with developers to persuade utilizing space in such a way that the immediate experience "behind the gates" provides ambiance or a touch of magic.  

If there is an opportunity for an enclosure, there can be a simple space set aside that will immediately bring more value to the property and the overall experience.  Of course, when I say more value....the clients always like the idea of that because design costs money and when a project is  in planning, decisions on so many details and numbers have to be made...

But, when they experience it...they are always thrilled.  And produces that same response to all who visit.

Five Factors For A Simple Courtyard

1) Create or make sure there is an enclosure.  Plants, french doors a gate but it must have a private ambiance

2) The ground.  Make it work with the overall design.  See the following examples but you may use, stone, smooth pebbles, decomposed granite, interlocking pavers, porcelain tiles or concrete or even teak interlocking tiles over concrete.

3) Green space - keep it neat and organized with a green wall and potted plants.  Overgrown misses the mark and the magic is lost.

4) A water element - so soothing and zen and such a great way to drown out noises outside of the property.

5) Lighting - ambient lighting such as hidden uplights on the green wall, spot down lights on the fountain or pond.  If a light is exposed it should be decorative and not glaring.

Some Of My Recent Favorites

I continue to add courtyards to my Pinterest page (feel free to follow) but brought over a few to share in this post that provides a variety of styles from around the world....There are so many.


Paris, France


NOHO, New York, Schumacher Building by Morris Adjmi Architects

Los Angeles, 1950's Brody House by A. Quincy Jones

San Antonio Texas, Lake Flato Architects 


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Better by Design  - created by a design professional to mentor others into their own creative business.  Some tips on design for the DIY person, but always from a professional perspective on how to be a designer and run your own design business.

Elizabeth Ribons, ASID, CID, Creative Entrepreneur