Everyone loves the great outdoors. Some would say it’s even better when you can have your own little piece of it a few steps away from the fridge and all the comforts of home. The economy may be down, but today’s buyers still expect to find outdoor spaces in homes of all sizes and price points, from custom estates to affordable rental apartments in the city. Happy hour anyone?

Photos: Michael Lowry Photography

Inside Out

Is it an indoor space or an outdoor one? Depends on the weather. No fewer than 15 retractable screens (which can operate individually or in unison) allow this hybrid communal zone to have it both ways. When the Florida heat and insects are bad, the screens can be deployed, capturing as much as 90 percent of conditioned air inside the lanai and shielding the area from solar glare. When the temperature is balmy and breezy, the space opens wide and yet still features comfy furniture, a TV, and a fireplace. Continuous royal oyster marble flooring makes a seamless transition from interior to exterior.

Project: Ibiza Outdoor Living Space, Winter Park, Fla.
Builder/Designer: Phil Kean Designs
Interior Designer: CRT Studio

Photos: Tyson Friestad Photography

Village Vibe

This intimate little project replaced a dilapidated apartment building and a number of rundown shed structures with 29 townhomes and flats--eight of which are affordable units--as part of a larger revitalization effort in downtown Santa Barbara. Interwoven with paseos and courtyards, the tight-knit neighborhood evokes the feeling of a medieval Spanish village. Residences are neatly perched on top of ground-level parking and commercial space and are literally across the street from theaters and restaurants, and a block from a grocery store.

Project: Paseo Chapala, Santa Barbara, Calif.
Architect/Land Planner: Peikert Group Architects
Builder: Trabucco Construction
Developer: Bermant Homes
Landscape Architect: The Office of Katie O’Reilly Rogers Landscaping

Photos: Tommy Crow Photography

Inner Space

Resting on a footprint measuring 36 feet by 80 feet, this zero lot-line townhouse reallocates precious yard space in an introverted way. All of the home’s public rooms open to an oasis in the heart of the plan, which is configured as a delicately layered sequence of covered loggias, galleries, and patios. The joints between Dominican shellstone pavers are planted with Dichondra to create a mossy carpet, while additional plantings of horsetail, climbing English ivy, and Japanese red maple provide complementary textures to beach pebbles, whitewashed walls, and Moorish tile work.

Project: Dos Flores, Alys Beach, Fla. 
Architect/ Landscape architect: Khoury & Vogt Architects
Builder: Wave Construction
Developer: EBSCO Gulf Coast Development
Land planner: DPZ Architects and Town Planners

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Phoenix, AZ, Santa Barbara, CA.