Design Details: Outdoor Spaces

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    Kip Dawkins

    The rustic timber frame of this porch addition allows for aesthetic variety while keeping in step with the home’s Tudor style. To avoid a just-added look, the team included a new chimney that mirrors an existing chimney on the rear of the home, providing an outdoor fireplace that keeps that porch functional all year long. Project: Hardly Porch/Pool Addition, Richmond, Va.; Builder: Tuckahoe Creek Construction, Manakin-Sabot, Va.; Architect: Cox & Associates, Richmond; Designer: Lost Bent Woodworking & Design, Riner, Va.

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    2000

    Wade Blissard

    Offering a trifecta for entertaining, this bluestone and brick patio includes an outdoor living space, dining area, and food prep station sporting a built-in grill, concrete countertops, and a fridge. And with its hearth and covered seating area, the space stays functional all year long. Project: Little Lisa, Houston; Builder: Thompson Custom Homes, Houston; Architect: Robert Dame Designs, Houston; Interior designer: Kalista White Design, Houston

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    Frank Domin

    When a former battery factory was given a new life as affordable, energy-efficient housing for low-income seniors, the team preserved an adjoining fruit orchard, which now provides art space, room for gardening, and a lovely access point for public transportation on the street side. Project: Orchards on Foothill, Oakland, Calif.; Builder: J.H. Fitzmaurice, Oakland; Architect: Pyatok Architects, Oakland; Developer: Affordable Housing Associates, Berkeley, Calif.; Landscape architect: Rich Seyfarth

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    Matt McCourtney

    This backyard patio’s good looks belie the project’s other virtues—such as its show-stopping energy efficiency that earned it the lowest HERS rating ever recorded by Energy Star. In keeping with the home’s ultra-efficient goals, the pool sports both a highly efficient pump system and solar-powered heating. Project: Power Haus, Sarasota, Fla.; Builder: Josh Wynne Construction, Sarasota

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    Julia Heine/McInturff Architects

    This versatile pool house is adaptable enough to change with the seasons, offering a full residence in warm weather, a guest home all year, and a pool house in summer months. An existing stone wall was used to separate the structure’s conditioned spaces—a bedroom and bathroom—from public areas, which open wide to welcome in fresh breezes. Project: Rappahannock Bend Summer House, King George, Va.; Builder: Bonitt Builders, Alexandria, Va.; Architect: McInturff Architects, Bethesda, Md.

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    Dave Burk

    A revamp of this 1950s ranch brought in a slew of modern materials, plenty of glass, and a Zen-inspired pebble garden, complete with a fire pit. Project: Residence 1255, Chicago-area; Builder: Rizzolo Brothers Co., Libertyville, Ill.; Architect: Grunsfeld Shafer Architects, Evanston, Ill.

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    Lynn Donaldson

    Rather than compete with its natural surroundings, which include a position on the Yellowstone River and views of the Rocky Mountains, this pavilion embraces them by stripping down to bare materials that allow it to blend in with the natural environs. A corrugated metal roof disguises a cable system that adds extra support, freeing up wall space for sliding doors that stack for optimal views. Project: Riverside Barbecue Pavilion, Big Timber, Mont.; Builder: On-Site Management, Bozeman, Mont.; Architect: Muse Architects, Bethesda, Md.

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    Courtesy Mather Lifeways

    This active adult community was planned around a generous commitment to outdoor living: Nearly two-thirds of the project is dedicated to green space. Al fresco amenities include walking paths, dining areas, a concert lawn, seating spaces, and garden beds for residents who prefer to grown their own. Project: The Mather, Evanston, Ill.; Developer/Builder: Mather LifeWays, Evanston; Architect: Solomon Cordwell Buenz, Chicago; Photo credit: Courtesy Mather Lifeways

From senior housing to affordable housing to private homes, a place with an outdoor space has an edge on the competition. It’s a memory point, and when all things are equal, a home with a thoughtful outdoor space is guaranteed to sell better that one without. It can be a place to grow zinnias, to cultivate heirloom tomatoes, to barbecue, or to splash in the pool (we’ll have a slideshow on pool spaces coming up in the next few weeks, just in time for the dog days of August). And it’s a low-cost option for bumping-up living space, especially when a fireplace and some shelter are included, making it possible to take in the outdoors rain or shine.

Senior editors Amy Albert and Claire Easley contributed reporting to this article.