Home Architecture Courtyard Homes – Bringing The Outdoors In

Courtyard Homes – Bringing The Outdoors In


Modern interest in household security and maintaining close proximity with nature has contributed to renewed interest in the courtyard home – a residence using the structure’s exterior walls to frame a private open space many are using for gardens, pools, water features and sometimes a private outdoor theater.

The style is generally preferred by homeowners hoping to create a safe interior space open to the elements and filled with natural light. 

Courtyard homes have, of course, been around for centuries and enjoyed by families from Iran to China for just as long. At the time, the courtyards were used primarily for cooking, gardening, ventilation, and often served as pens for their livestock – as valuable to the families of yore as SUVs are today.

Although the tiled, open plaza “Hacienda-style” home was popular during the days of Early California, it eventually gave way to the traditional Rancher and tract home we have come to know. It is, however, seeing a resurgence as homeowners seek out ways to keep their children off the street while providing an outdoor experience complete, in some cases, with lawns, pools and landscaping.

A slightly more traditional “hacienda-style” courtyard.

Architects and building designers are creating more homes with courtyards as modern homeowners with space to build experiment with a “campus” configuration in living – a series of rooms built around a centralized feature and each as accessible as the next with short walks through carefully lit and landscaped “contemplative spaces.”

They have also proven attractive to property owners looking to build homes with views where there are none, architects and designers centering their plans around a focal point and perhaps adding “light wells” and galleries to look out onto or to enjoy from spaces within the residence.

Going a step further and, perhaps embracing a current trend toward incorporating an outdoor shower in home design, many modern bathrooms have been configured to include wells of natural light and even living landscaping into the bathroom.

Do you have a courtyard home? Care to share any pictures? What is it about the design that proved attractive – or not – to you? We’re interested in hearing from you.


  1. Very popular building type in Asia. I have been lucky enough to have stayed in one or two during business trips to Singapore and they are lovely. Many are lushly landscaped to the point where you feel you have fallen asleep in a rain forest. Calming and relaxing and if I had the right property and money enough to would try to reconstruct the type. Also Bali.

  2. I love responses like Dina’s.

    I imagine someone walking by any random object; a building, painting, car, etc., stopping for a moment to yell “Beautiful!” at the empty air, then continuing on like nothing happened.

    • @Dave – We’ve been known to do it from time to time and it has only gotten us slapped a couple of times.

  3. Fell in love with the design in Mexico. The courtyard makes it a pleasure to walk from one room of the house to another. We had a table in the courtyard and ate most of our meals there. Great lifestyle.

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