How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round

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By Anna Jones / Published by Anna Jones
Summer may have come and gone, but with the right design and setting, the opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors remains throughout the year.

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy changing tones and textures. Winter encourages us to slow down and appreciate warmth. Spring blooms color and greenery.

The projects shown below represent design solutions that create opportunities for engagement between interior and exterior spaces through all seasons of the year. 

Bring the Outdoors In  

This abode in Mexico, designed by Taller Estilo Arquitectura, blends the exterior courtyard and pool with the interior living spaces through two-story swing doors. 

How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round - Photo 1 of 8 - The back of the home glows at night as the giant, two-story glass doors swing open to remove the barrier between inside and out. A polished concrete patio deck and pool, along with a simple block perimeter wall, make smart use of available materials. The pool acts as a passive conditioning tool, cooling air before it enters the house. The block wall is positioned 31 inches from the house, creating a gap or "air chimney" that allows air to circulate up and away from the home, while simultaneously letting light filter down.

The back of the home glows at night as the giant, two-story glass doors swing open to remove the barrier between inside and out. A polished concrete patio deck and pool, along with a simple block perimeter wall, make smart use of available materials. The pool acts as a passive conditioning tool, cooling air before it enters the house. The block wall is positioned 31 inches from the house, creating a gap or "air chimney" that allows air to circulate up and away from the home, while simultaneously letting light filter down.

Focus on the Landscape

A modern home, located in a forest amidst the Andean foothills of Chile, is deeply rooted in its setting and gains inspiration from the area's geology to provide a unique bathing ritual. Terraced platforms look to the landscape beyond, stepping down to an outdoor hot tub that's fully encased in the trees and land. 

How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round - Photo 2 of 8 - The lower terrace, which features a hot tub, is farther down the hill to immerse its users in the landscape.

The lower terrace, which features a hot tub, is farther down the hill to immerse its users in the landscape.

Provide Greenery and Shelter 

A retreat in Mexico City provides a rooftop pool sheltered by concrete walls and green vines.  The pool blends with a dining space and master suite through large, pocketed glass doors, creating an indoor/outdoor private retreat.

How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round - Photo 3 of 8 - The rooftop courtyard is lined with a verdant mix of indigenous plants, including banana trees, palm trees, lion’s claw, Mexican breadfruit, and native vines. The chaise longues were designed for Farca’s EF Collection.

The rooftop courtyard is lined with a verdant mix of indigenous plants, including banana trees, palm trees, lion’s claw, Mexican breadfruit, and native vines. The chaise longues were designed for Farca’s EF Collection.

Carve Out a Space to Dine  

Designed to be one with the landscape, this home in Venice, California, is set among the trees, fully supporting indoor/outdoor living.  Every interior room has a matching outdoor space, including the dining space shown below, which is connected to the main home via a fireplace.

How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round - Photo 4 of 8 - The couple often dine on the patio off the kitchen, warmed by a fireplace from Spark Modern Fires.

The couple often dine on the patio off the kitchen, warmed by a fireplace from Spark Modern Fires.

Add Elements of Fun

Roof Mediaimae in Tokyo, Japan, features a rooftop terrace complete with a grass lawn and a movie screening area.  It is an ideal setting for outdoor movies under the stars. 

How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round - Photo 5 of 8 - Rooftop

Rooftop

Make it Warm

The Curved House by Hufft Projects incorporates an outdoor fire pit, surrounded by ipe wood with integrated seating. 

How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round - Photo 6 of 8 - Taking cues from a Japanese-influenced slatted screen applied to the house’s facade, Hufft Projects applied a ring of ipe wood around the perimeter of this outdoor firepit.

Taking cues from a Japanese-influenced slatted screen applied to the house’s facade, Hufft Projects applied a ring of ipe wood around the perimeter of this outdoor firepit.

Embrace the Elements

The Delta Shelter, a 1,000-square-foot cabin by Olson Kundig, is a steel-clad box that sits on stilts, hovering over a flood plain below. The compact plan is virtually indestructible and can survive any adventure or provided weather in the mountains. 

How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round - Photo 7 of 8 - Olson Kundig Architects' Delta Shelter, in Mazama, Washington, is a 1,000 square-foot steel box home with a 200 square-foot footprint. Photo by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects/TASCHEN.

Olson Kundig Architects' Delta Shelter, in Mazama, Washington, is a 1,000 square-foot steel box home with a 200 square-foot footprint. Photo by Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects/TASCHEN.

Create Layers

A hillside home in Australia provides a layering of outdoor spaces that engulfs the surrounding trees and scenic views.  Outdoor terraces, louvered floor-to-ceiling windows, and a square plunge pool wrap the house and provide a variety of spaces to jump into the landscape when summer rolls back around. 

How to Create a Modern Outdoor Oasis to Enjoy Year-Round - Photo 8 of 8 - Dunlop demonstrates the deck’s secondary use: as a launching pad into the concrete plunge pool on the first floor.

Dunlop demonstrates the deck’s secondary use: as a launching pad into the concrete plunge pool on the first floor.