The location of an outdoor room depends primarily on its purpose. “If playing bocce is what you want to do, it’s a whole lot different than if you want to drink wine with friends,” says Tina Skinner, author of Outdoor Rooms: Fresh-Air Kitchens and Living Areas. A dining and entertainment area, for example, should be close to the house, to minimize the hassle of ferrying food and beverages between indoors and out. A game room or sports court is best far from the house, to prevent errant balls from cracking a window and to give kids ample room to run. If you’re planning more than one outdoor space, it’s important to consider the flow between them; strategically placed focal points, such as a fireplace or fountain, can help draw people from one area to the next.
Schechter advises starting any outdoor-room project by taking into account four fundamentals: wind, light, view, and privacy. You want gentle breezes, not whipping winds; sunshine is great, but not when it brings baking heat; and while you may like your neighbors, you don’t want them as voyeurs in your backyard retreat.