Outdoor Living Design Tips from Jamie Durie

Designer Jamie Durie shares his tips for building the perfect outdoor room.

| July/August 2011

  • Designer Jamie Durie framed this outdoor dining room by incorporating a large backyard pine tree into a stone wall. The benches are made of simple fallen tree trunks, an easy, inexpensive way to create gorgeous outdoor seating.
    Photo By Tonya McCahon
  • Jamie Durie created several “settings” in this backyard, including a dining area, a lounge area and an open yard for play.
    Photo By Tonya McCahon
  • Jamie Durie
    Photo By Tonya McCahon

Author, television host and environmentalist Jamie Durie pioneered the idea of outdoor rooms in his native Australia. Durie’s love of nature guides him in creating outdoor living spaces that expand homes to the outdoors. Trained as a Climate Project Presenter (with former Vice President Al Gore), Durie lectures about environmentalism around the world. He designed this outdoor space for a Wyoming family. His book, Jamie Durie’s The Outdoor Room, is available at jamiedurie.com.

What was the inspiration for this space?  

I was inspired by a trip to the Amangani Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which features mountain architecture using lots of natural stone and wood. I was also inspired by the existing site and the large pine tree in the backyard, which we incorporated into the wall, and last but not least, by the family’s requests. The homeowners wanted a place for their young son to play, a breakfast deck and a large dining area.

What are some lessons readers could adapt at home?  

1. Build the most attractive gathering place farthest from the house. That way, the entire space between the house and the structure becomes more important and more frequently used, maximizing use of the entire backyard.

2. Be sure to offer a handful of “settings” within the garden: This family now has a breakfast deck with built-in seating; a children’s zone with a fort and a swing; a dining pavilion with a stone wall; and a wide open area for play.

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