Interior courtyards blur the boundaries between landscape and architecture. They make adjacent interior rooms feel larger and offer a unique combination of fresh air and privacy.
We all want to spend more time in nature, and residents of houses with glass-walled interior courtyards experience a bit of the great outdoors from the comfort of their homes. In structures with courtyards nestled between separate wings, the courtyard is often the most direct (and refreshing) route from one part of the house to another.
Here, we've rounded up ten houses with interior courtyards designed by members of the Remodelista + Gardenista Architect/Designer Directory.
Above: In a densely concentrated neighborhood of modest dwellings and businesses, this Austin house by Alterstudio Architecture is private on the outside while providing communal outdoor space via an internal courtyard. All of the rooms adjacent to the courtyard have natural ventilation and light.
Above: Also by Alterstudio, this interesting Austin design is situated in a less interesting subdivision. The architects drew attention away from the surrounding neighborhood by turning the focus inward to a courtyard filled with creeping zoysia grass connected to the front of the house by a glass hallway. The structure's architectural focus is the centralized outdoor space and its rear view.
Above: Jennifer Weiss Architecture of San Francisco remodeled a William Wurster house with full-height glass walls abutting the kitchen, dining, and living rooms, making the courtyard an extension of the main open living space. For more from the architect, see Steal This Look: J. Weiss Kitchen & Bar in SF. Photograph by Lucas Fladzinski.
Above: London architects Stiff + Trevillion turned a Victorian vicarage into a single-family home. The resulting part-Gothic, part-modern design features a skylit courtyard to ease the transition from the interior portion of the house to the exterior. See more of the firm's new/old aesthetic in A Victorian Remodel with an Industrial Edge.
Above: This East Hampton house by Deborah Berke & Partners was sited on the far corner of a 1.4-acre property as a way to leave as much of the yard as open as possible. The courtyard shown above is one of several discrete outdoor spaces designed to highlight the landscape. For more by the firm, see Architect Visit: Deborah Berke Artist's Studio in New York.
Above: When Mesh Architectures renovated a Brooklyn house with a garage that filled the entire property lot, the architects created an interior courtyard instead of a typical rear yard. A great room, master bedroom, and master bathroom open onto the courtyard, expanding each of those rooms outdoors, particularly in good weather. For more from the architects, see The Architect Is In: Romancing the Loft with Mesh Architectures.
Above: This compound in Stinson Beach near San Francisco was renovated by Pfau Long Architecture and Marin-based Blasen Landscape Architecture. The owners wanted usable outdoor space but had to contend with salt air and extreme winds, so the designers found a solution in a protected courtyard sited among the main living spaces and outbuildings. For the full story, see A Beautiful Seaside Garden at the End of a Dirt Road. Photograph by Marion Brenner.
Above: Architects Edwards Moore renovated a small workers' cottage in Melbourne, adding multiple interior courtyards to lend an outdoor component to the living spaces. The walls of glass help to bring natural light into the all-white interior. For more on the design, see The Magic of Two Courtyards in Melbourne. Photograph by Fraser Marsden.
Above: Renovated by Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects, this Hamptons house is composed of a two-story bedroom wing and a one-story series of communal spaces connected by an open courtyard. According to architect Viola Rouhani, "Every meal happens in that courtyard." For more on the project, see The Architect Is In: A Home in the Hamptons, Designed to Endure.
Above: Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture designed several interior courtyards in an austerely modern Marin house. The courtyards function as art pieces that extend the size of the adjacent rooms. For more by Cochran, see Garden Visit: Andrea Cochran's Courtyard Vignettes.
For Indoor/Outdoor Living ideas, peruse our Gallery of Rooms and Spaces. And for more courtyards, see The Magic of Two Courtyards in Melbourne and, on Gardenista, LA Confidential: A Private Courtyard Garden Goes Luxe on a Budget.