Amazing Backyard Escapes
A Family Fire Pit
For her Connecticut property, designer Bonnie Edelman carefully crafted a fire pit. "My parents always encouraged us: invest in your own property, not in country clubs," says her husband, John. "So till bedtime it's for s'mores and family bonding. After bedtime it's romantic." Designed with storage in mind, speakers are hidden in the walls of local stone, and logs are stacked under the benches.
Garden Dining Area
Rustic yet refined, a 10-foot-long table sits in the center of landscape designer Lisa Bynon's vegetable and cutting garden in Southampton New York. "You can't really see this from the house, and it's almost a five-minute walk across a stone terrace, the lawn, and a circular fern garden. I love the sense of surprise," Bynon says. The Belgian oak furniture, Tuscan stoneware, handblown goblets, vase, and linen napkins all come from Bloom in Sag Harbor. A graphic cedar deer fence encloses formal raised planting beds.
A private dock is the ultimate lake cottage accessory, a place for dozing, diving, daydreaming: choose your pastime. Even if you aren't lakeside, set up chairs under a beach umbrella in your backyard for a similar effect. On this dock outside of a Connecticut cottage renovated by architect Gil Schafer, the lanterns and towels are from L.L. Bean.
Rocks and stones suggest a Japanese garden in this courtyard retreat outside a Los Angeles house designed by Pamela Shamshiri for Commune. Amphitheater-style steps provide extra seating when the homeowners are having a party. Exterior sconces by Robert Lewis for Commune.
There's a round opening in the roof of this pavilion, outside a Thomas Hamel–designed Florida house, so you can lie on the daybed and look up at the stars. The daybed is suspended by rope. Chinese garden stool by Monica James.
Shed Turned Studio
To create a studio and guest room outside their cozy cottage in rural Vermont, designers Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber added windows and French doors to a potting shed. "Even though we live here full-time, we tried to design our house with the feeling of a country house we escape to," Heekin says.
The U-shaped layout of this Nantucket outdoor kitchen by landscape architect Kris Horiuchi is zoned from hot to cold, moving from the grill on the left to a pair of cooktops, the pizza oven, a sink, two 24-inch refrigerator drawers, a beverage cooler, and a 15-inch ice maker. "But what really makes this kitchen is the social component. People sit, having drinks, and the person doing the cooking is not relegated to Siberia," Horiuchi says. Sink by Elkay, with a Rohl faucet. All of the other appliances and the stainless-steel cabinetry are by Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet.
This red-striped hammock hangs between two trees outside design consultant Ellen O'Neill's Bridgehampton cottage. "I felt like I had run into an old friend when I saw this hammock at Ikea," she says.