Privacy is a key consideration because it affects both location and design. “An outdoor room is simply a place within the yard that has a feeling of enclosure,” says Skinner. “You need a sense that you can be there without the neighbors intruding.” Where houses are close together, a tall wooden fence or vine-covered trellis will shield views. A sunken patio can give a sense of privacy without making you feel hemmed in.
Leveraging existing features of the house and property is one of the best—and most economical —ways to create intimate spaces. If your yard has low spots, for example, you can use the contours as natural walls and create a room in the valley between rises. A cluster of leafy trees can serve as both a wall and a ceiling, while a stream or pond can establish borders. Closer to the house, a seating area nestled against one exterior wall takes advantage of a built-in boundary while it provides a transitional space between inside and out.