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 homes with glass-walled interior courtyards experience a bit of the great outdoors from the comfort of their homes. In homes 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 of our favorite interior courtyard gardens:
Above: In a densely concentrated neighborhood of modest homes and businesses, this Austin home by Alterstudio Architecture is private on the outside while providing communal outdoor space via an internal courtyard. All the rooms adjacent to the courtyard have natural ventilation and light.
Above: Like a gallery space, plantings encircle the Green Edge House in Japan. For more, see Architect Visit: A Hidden Japanese Garden.
Above: A courtyard garden in Antwerp, with rain forest plants including tree ferns and Kangaroo paws. Photograph via Bart & Pieter.
Above: A shady inner courtyard at Hotel Nord-Pinus. For more, see Rock the Casbah: A Courtyard Hotel in Tanger.
Above: London architects Stiff + Trevillion turned a Victorian vicarage into a single-family home. The resulting part-Gothic, part-modern home features a skylit courtyard to ease the transition from the interior portion of the home to the exterior. See more of the firm's new/old aesthetic in A Victorian Remodel with an Industrial Edge.
Above: When Mesh Architectures renovated a Brooklyn home whose garage 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 in good weather. For more from the architects, see The Architect Is In: Romancing the Loft with Mesh Architectures.
Above: This home 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 living component to the living spaces. The walls of glass help to bring natural light into the home's all-white interior. For more on the home, see The Magic of Two Courtyards in Melbourne. Photograph by Fraser Marsden.
Above: This Hamptons home renovated by Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects is composed of a two-story bedroom wing and a one-story wing 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 home. The courtyards are meant to function as art pieces that extend the size of every room to which they attach. For more from the landscape architect, see Garden Visit: Andrea Cochran's Courtyard Vignettes.
For even more courtyard gardens, see A Secret Courtyard Garden in Piccadilly, Ancient Tree Ferns Included and LA Confidential: A Private Courtyard Garden Goes Luxe on a Budget.