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Think outside the box: Tips for great outdoor spaces

A side entry positioned and columned like this one is an outdoor space that can encourage “hanging out.”
A side entry positioned and columned like this one is an outdoor space that can encourage “hanging out.”none

Now that we are safely past the winter, it is time to think about how we want to enjoy fine weather when we’re at home. Good architectural design means taking into account the exterior spaces along with the interior ones.

Besides the obvious patio or deck outside the back door, there are other opportunities for creating outdoor spaces. Consider the front entry. Besides a simple straight walk leading up to the front door, you might consider creating a “landing pad” of some sort. This could take the form of a larger area where you might put a bench or a stone wall that acts as both potential seating or the front of a planting bed. You can create an outdoor space to pause and savor a quiet moment as you approach the house.


Another potential outdoor space is the side entry. Say you have an exterior door between the garage and house that faces the street. That side entry could have a nice porch with a column or two, and it can be designed to encourage “hanging out” — with a built-in bench and some planters. Small children would enjoy using the steps as seating while taking a break from playing hopscotch on the driveway.

A screened porch is a space people often request. While the idea is nice, its placement needs to be carefully thought out. A screened porch will block out light to the room in front of it. If you have a walk-out basement, placing the screened porch under a deck or balcony is ideal.

Also, consider building a balcony off your master bedroom. Even though you may use it only once in a while, a balcony is a wonderful option for adding to your outdoor spaces. Sometimes that is the only spot that will catch the late afternoon sun. Go ahead, throw open the doors and enjoy the fresh air!


Dear Chris

Q. I am a longstanding Boston Globe subscriber, and I am very much enjoying your Address section as we embark on a renovation project for our home. I am seeking advice about how to find, and then choose, the architect most appropriate for our requirements, as well as ensuring the most positive working relationship. Can you please provide me with some resources — whether it is a listing, organization, or websites in the Brookline area?


A. A great resource is the Boston Society of Architects’ free “Homeowner’s Handbook.” You will find a directory of architects who do residential design, as well as a handy list of questions you should ask in your search. You can always check it out online at www.architects.org. One resource that has become popular is Houzz.com. Another great resource is the Not So Big House (www.notsobighouse.com) directory of local architects who subscribe to the concept that it is not the size of a house that makes a good home, but the attention to detail. I hope this helps.

Chris Chu is an architect in West Newton who specializes in residential design. Send questions to Address@globe.com.