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Outdoor Rooms and Features that Today’s Dream Home Must Have

Top 9 Outdoor Rooms and Features for When You Imagine that Next Dream Home


Is a treehouse or a studio cottage in the backyard on your “must-have” list for your future deam house plans? Maybe you yearn to cook outdoors like a master BBQ chef - and just need the right outdoor space?

Here are our readers, editors and builders Top 8 Ideas for outdoor rooms and features.


1. Wide, Wraparound Porch

For all those sunny and lazy days of summer where one can enjoy the breeze, have a couple of cool drinks and watch the sun set. And if you live in the South, a covered porch facing south or west can be an inviting place to relax most times of the year.

Covered porch on home plan #153-1871

Country style living on covered porch in late fall.

Covered porches for all seasons: On the left is a porch that oozes comfort and contentment on a hot summer’s day (Plan #153-1871).  To the right, this home’s porch (Plan #163-1020) catches plenty of sun thanks to how the home was positioned on the property – making it inviting even during the Christmas holidays (note the wreaths next to the door).


Color Photo of Country Houseplans 165-1090

A two-story, three bedroom farmhouse plan (left) features a porch with stone-based columns (Plan #165-1090).


2.   Cottage or Cabin in the Backyard

Need some time to yourself? Away from all the buzz and activities in the home? A little cottage or cabin in your own backyard is a wonderful reading and relaxing space – or if need be – a workshop / studio. 

Plan #134-1218 from the backyard

Here’s the perfect spot for the small cabin in the backyard of this two-story, five bedroom farmhouse style plan (Plan #134-1218).

Backyard cabin     

This small shed-like cabin would do well in most any backyard (Photo credit: Toa Heftiba on Unsplash).


3.   An attractive and Landscaped Courtyard

There’s nothing more inviting than a colorful facade and landscaped grounds to set the tone for what awaits inside.

117-1092 house plan left elevation

A modern landscape design illustrated in this Texas living style house plan (Plan #117-1092).


4.   Treehouse with a Hammock Below

As a child, you wanted a huge treehouse in your backyard. Now, you can make that dream a reality.

This is the front rendering of these Small House Plans

Treehouse at night

Top: A two-bedroom country home plan (#109-1006) packs a lot of amenities in less than 1000 square feet of space – lush greenery, covered front and rear porches, and a great room or just a few of the home features we love. Bottom: A full-size treehouse on the grounds would fit cozily next to the swing (Photo credit: Roberto Nickson on Unsplash).


5.   Meditation Garden

Looking to achieve Zen? For some homeowners, a meditation garden creates an atmosphere of calm and peace. Before or after a busy day at work – or in between doing chores at home – a quiet meditation garden is the place. Remember to use warm colors that blend with nature for your garden.

Rock-Meditation Garden in front of House Plan # 161-1017

Plan 161-1042

A rock garden with waterfalls in the courtyard of this two-story house (top) has a calming effect (Plan #161-1017). The photo above shows the spacious backyard of a one-story, five-bedroom mountain house plan (Plan #161-1042) for a traditional meditation garden. 


6.   Greenhouse

From your meditation garden, you can walk to the greenhouse filled with all your favorite plants and flowers. In modern greenhouses, you can also cultivate your own vegetable and herb garden. It is also a great way to nurture seedlings before planting them in an outdoor organic garden.

Greenhouse in geodesic form

Greenhouses come in all shapes and colors.  This one has a geodesic form (Photo credit: Phil Shaw on Unsplash).

Back Patio of Home #153-1781

Front view of this Craftsman style home.

Imagine how attractive a greenhouse made of redwood timber would look next to the back patio (top) of this Craftsman style home plan (above, Plan #153-1781).


7.   Outdoor Kitchen / Grilling Porch

Just a plain old BBQ grill is passé! Now you can have a full outdoor kitchen or a barbecue porch for summer parties and other social events. 

Backyard grilling porch / outdoor kitchen (home 106-1156)

Whip up your favorite recipes in a beautifully-landscaped backyard (#106-1156). An outdoor kitchen in this luxury house plan brings all the party action to you!

Relax and enjoy the view from the barbecue porch of this traditional five-bedroom country home plan (Plan #134-1355). Anything cooking on the grill? 


8.   Fire Pit

Why not a campfire at home? Gather your friends around a fire pit, relax and start roasting hot dogs and marshmallows. 

Fire pit ablaze in backyard of this country home.

Warm up next to your very own fire pit in this five-bedroom country house (Plan #165-1077) that also includes fireplaces, porches, a sunroom, and plenty of space to unwind.  


9.   Pergola

Many homeowners enjoy spending time outdoors under a pergola. Latin in origin, pergola is an English term, originally borrowed from the Italians. A pergola is a freestanding garden structure that forms an outdoor sitting area, walkway, or passageway, and they have been the scene of many a romance novel or film worldwide throughout history. Also known as an arbor, pergolas of yesteryear offered a sitting area designed for sitting with some protection from harsh sunlight.

In essence, these structures have had a resurgence. In simplest form, a pergola is a covered area and place for you to relax and enjoy the beauty of your backyard. Today, they are the hub of a family’s social life. Complete outdoor garden rooms where family and friends may relax and enjoy fresh air and beverages while entertaining guests, these more modern outdoor rooms even include comfortable furniture, wireless televisions, fire pits, and kitchens! 

Pergolas were probably inspired by the late medieval green tunnels found in early Renaissance gardens. These were made from springy withy shoots to create a row of arches that were loosely woven slats on which the vines grew, providing a cool shaded passageway. Traditional pergolas are built out of stone, brick or wood with vertical pillars that support cross-beams and an open lattice where vines are trained to grow. As a type of gazebo, these structures can be an extension of a building or serve as protection for a back patio.

Most modern day pergolas are also made out of weather-resistant woods like western red cedar or coast redwood. Today’s lesser expensive low maintenance pergolas are made out of aluminum, CPVC (cellular PVC), vinyl, or fiberglass. Enhanced fiberglass resin is another option that is made to look like wood. Some woods are stained, painted or treated with preservatives so they can be used outdoors.

These comfortable and functional outdoor rooms make excellent add-ons to almost any home, and there is a pergola or gazebo to suit almost all architecture styles of house plans from California Ranch to Prairie style house plans to Southern mansions. They are ideal over your spa, near the BBQ, swimming pool, or up on a nearby hillside overlooking a nice view.

Pergola on the backyard patio of a large Country Craftsman home

Building a pergola structure is fairly simple and in fact there are many pre-built brands available at garden centers and home building supply companies. In addition, a contractor can easily design a great outdoor room for your home like this pergola with an outdoor grilling space with flower pots and plants (Plan #153-1781). A large furnished pergola is a great way to enjoy the shaded outdoors. 

Once the structure is in place and furnished, some homeowners enjoy hanging flowers and plants, while others plant one of the many lovely creeping vines to choose from depending on the area where you live.

Some beautiful vines include:

• Lilac Solanum - an evergreen vine found in mild areas which offers a lovely display of flowers during summer months;

• Honeysuckle - which features a heady and almost intoxicating fragrance around dusk in the evening;

• Clematis - a hearty vine that climbs using tendrils that wrap around posts;

• Heavyweight Wisteria - which actually needs a very strong pergola to support the vine laden with gorgeous clusters of purple flowers; and

• Morning Glory - a pretty vine that creeps with blue flowers appearing from late summer into autumn.

If you decide to build a pergola along with your new house plan, remember that they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes – round, square, rectangular, hexagonal, or even octagonal. Some are also customized for a hot tub, screened in, or equipped with a bar and pizza oven. Others can be built like a mini living room outdoors complete with wide screen TVs and kitchens.


So don’t stifle yourself! Let your imagination and creativity flow – after all, it’s your dream home. Tell us what outdoor room is in your dreams!



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