The Courtyard Entry Style Home: A Touch of the Intimate and Serene
Some things never change. They just get better.
Take the courtyard entry house plan and its popularity today among builders and would-be buyers. You’ve seen the beautiful gardens, stately columns and other attractions of the courtyard plan. It’s no surprise that people are drawn to the charm and comfort of this house style.
The courtyard design goes back to 2000 BC, but its appeal is timeless Frequently found in Mission and Mediterranean home plans, and in places with warm climates, courtyard entry styles – then and now - provide abundant light, air, needed peace and quiet in the home; and in urban areas, an escape from street noise and traffic.
Check out the courtyard of this four-bedroom home (Plan #134-1359)… lots of light and breeze along the corridors for a stroll or quiet meditation (below).
Features of Courtyard Entry Plans
Perhaps the signature feature of the courtyard entry plan is the landscaped area in front of the main entrance – which can consist of trees, plants, flowers, or even a water fountain.
The courtyard of this two-story, five-bedroom house (Plan #107-1026) is lined with trees, flowers and plants. The wrought-iron fence that goes around the house, columns, and arches add to its appeal. A Great Room, kitchen, family room, and guest suite are on the main floor.
Other characteristics of the courtyard entry plan include:
1. Private open spaces surrounded by walls
2. A low fence around the property or wrought iron gate
3. Columns and arches
4. A secluded sitting area similar to what a covered front porch provides
Relish the private and relaxing moments with family friends in this open courtyard within this home (Plan #161-1037).
Origins of the Courtyard Entry Style: From the East to the West
With beginnings dating back to 2000 BC – the courtyard home has had various interpretations in different parts of the world. In the traditional Chinese concept, the courtyard entry – as well as the interior courtyard – featured lush landscapes: shrubs, greenery, and flowers. Inside, there were small gardens and fountains built for the enjoyment of the families.
In the Middle East, the gardens provided much needed privacy for women as they relaxed; During the Middle Ages, monasteries and castles in Europe featured courtyard designs – both for privacy and security.
An aerial view of a Monastary and Palace Bebenhausen, Tübingen, Germany - built with a center courtyard for both privacy and security (Photo credit: Max Böttinger on Unsplash).
An exterior view of a traditional “Siheyuan” or courtyard house in ancient China and a look at the interior courtyard (Photo credit: Rikke Filbært on Unsplash).
Throughout centuries and different architectural periods, the courtyard entry – and courtyard home – have not only endured, but are very popular among developers, designers, and homeowners. The design is most often found in Mediterranean and Mission style house plans.
In the early 1900s, the courtyard trend caught on in Los Angeles when several architects – particularly Arthur and Nina Zwebell designed several charming courtyard apartments in the city’s residential neighborhoods. Looking every inch like Mediterranean homes, these apartments had beautiful landscaping, gardens, and fountains. These courtyard complexes – which date back to the 1920s – are still around. While they have been renovated by private owners or converted into condominiums, their original architecture has been preserved.
Built in 1926 by the Zwebells in Los Angeles, the Andalusia courtyard apartments (above) and their other historic courtyard designs were influenced by the Spanish Mission style. The Andalusia is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Another famous courtyard apartment structure by Zwebell is known as Casa Laguna Apartments (not shown).
(Photo credit: Andalusia, Havenhurst Dr., Hollywood by Los Angeles licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)
What about the Style Today?
The courtyard entry design continues to be popular not only in suburban areas but among city dwellers as well. People find the style’s appealing mix of the outdoors with the indoors, the feeling of privacy and comfort it conveys truly attractive.
This 4-bedroom luxury California style home with Mediterranean detailing (Plan #175-1086) has an attractive courtyard entry and covered portico to welcome guests.
In urban areas, homeowners are now turning to the courtyard entry to bring nature into their homes and create that sense of peace and calm amid the noise and congestion. Here are a few ideas for that perfect oasis in a city environment.
1. Build a low fence – or a hedge - to separate the house from the street.
2. Select materials that blend with the home.
3. Simple landscaping or a small front garden – shrubs and flowers that flank the recessed door – to “invite” people into the home
4. Comfortable outdoor furniture (similar to porch accessories) that can withstand changing weather conditions.
Walk through the open wrought-iron gate into a gorgeous 2-story 5-bedroom home (Plan #168-1024), nestled within the tall trees and landscaped courtyard. The home features a fireplace, library, mud room, office, den, and Great Room.
Whether you live in the suburbs or in a busy city, you can have your “slice” of the courtyard entry design with a little creativity and imagination.