51 Captivating Courtyard Designs That Make Us Go Wow

A captivating courtyard design provides a modern home with a special sense of serenity, and allows nature to become a major part of a home’s makeup. Enclosed garden spaces act as personalised nature retreats that feed into adjacent interior spaces via the blurred boundaries of glass walls, retractable doors and atrium ceilings. To explore these glorious spaces a little more and look at the different ways in which they can be implemented, we have put together a vast collection of inspirational designs taken from all over the world. From South America to Spain to Sri Lanka, from Africa to Japan to India, we cover them all.

Architect: Jared Della Valle  

Twinning is winning: Why settle for one courtyard if you can have two? It’s hard to distinguish the boundaries in this amazing modern home – and that’s kind of the point. Courtyards on each side of a walkway bring nature smack into the centre of this living space.

Architect: Figr  

Extend the same interior ceiling finish out over an exterior courtyard design, like this continuous wood slat ceiling that completely disregards the border.

Architect: LIJO.RENY.architects  

This is part of a gorgeous Indian home split by a covered garden atrium. A density of indoor plants grow in the vicinity of an interior stairwell.

Visualizer: Tarek Ali  

Make a courtyard part of the decor. This highly tailored courtyard design looks as though in disguise as a botanically patterned area rug – though the tree growing out of it is a bit of a giveaway.

Visualizer: OMA  

You will be surprised to know that this is in fact a cancer care building in Scotland. The Royal Incorporation of Architects, in Scotland, named it as the best building in the country back in 2012 for its bold and welcoming design that is so unusual for the healthcare industry.

Architect: Hiroshi Nakamura & NAP  

Light it up with lanterns. This Japanese home has lanterns dotted around its courtyard patio to provide a magical glow at twilight.

Architect: XTEN Architecture  

Make the most of an exterior courtyard by including some modern outdoor chairs into the layout, or add a full dining suite for al fresco dining opportunities.

Visualizer: NOTT  

Everybody loves a bit of rock ‘n’ roll – incorporate some big rocks into the courtyard landscaping for a strong architectural effect.

Designer: Harrison Landscaping  

Create different levels. By adding decks and platforms to your layout you can define eating areas or an outdoor kitchen. Decorate courtyard decks and patios with potted plants or raised plant beds.

Designer: Jungles  

Make a frame with plants. A low maintenance patio can be framed by dense borders of greenery.

Designer: Handman Associates  

If green borders still sound like too much maintenance for you, then how about a softly bubbling water feature to create an atmosphere of zen instead?

Designer: Corbin Reeves  

A contemporary outdoor fireplace is sure to give the wow factor. This hearth extends almost the full length of the courtyard between two pebbled plant beds. The plant in the left corner is the European fan palm.

Architect: South Coast Architects  

Romance a special Señorita or Señor in a Spanish courtyard. You can flamenco dance the night away around the columns of romantic arches – try not to fall in the water feature though.

Visualizer: Davide Weber  

This rather fancy visualisation was one of the entrants to an Evermotion Secret Gardens competition held in 2016.

Photographer: The Blonde Abroad  

Take the plunge. You can take a quick cooling dip in a plunge pool at the centre of this moroccan design covered with green and white tile. Comfy sun loungers invite you to stay all day.

Visualizer: Sasha Gnativ  

Even a narrow space can be transformed into a magical spot. Incorporate plenty of colour in your planting to curate an uplifting view.

Designer: Architectural Services Division, Govt of Honk Kong SAR, China  

This building is actually a crematorium in Diamond Hill, Hong Kong. The shape of the courtyard alludes to the circle of life.

Architect: Atelier Deshaus  

Courtyards don’t have to be flat. A few little hills bring in a touch of the wild.

Visualizer: Tharik Mohammed  

This is based on the famous Hooper House II by Marcel Breuer, which is a mid century classic.

Architect: Mia Design Studio  

Cultivate some curtains, like these amazing hanging plants over a reflecting pool.

Architect: ONG&ONG  

Build bridges – from one side of a home to the other.

Architect: Ayutt and Associates  

Plumerias are a great plant for courtyards, with their whimsical form.

Architect: Wallflower  

This one has a 100 year old Plumeria tree, living right at the centre of a modern pool.

Architect: Gaudenzi  

Soak up the sun in a hammock. This is part of a great Brazilian home with lush jungle vibes.

Architect: Marcio Kogan  

Erase walls with a retractable door solution.

Designer: Tom Howard  

Maintain all of your ground space by fashioning a vertical garden, like the multi-tonal walls in this front courtyard design. A cool interlocking design is created at ground level with irregular paving planks and lawn. A fire pit keeps the seating area comfortable in chillier times of day or season.

Architect: Sebastian Mariscal  
Photographer: Coral von Zumwal  

Form a shaded area over the dining chairs and table for a cooler more comfortable outdoor dining experience in the height of summer, or to provide shelter from unexpected showers.

Visualizer: Andriy Maheha  

Welcome to the courtyard bar. This outdoor bar is linked directly to the interior kitchen, to receive drinks and snacks, or simply chat to the chef.

Visualizer: Estudio Arquitecta Grin  

Built-in benches at the borders can double as outdoor dining banquettes.

Visualizer: Sqool  

This concrete bench wraps right around an outdoor kitchen, marking out its perimeter.

Designer: Studio EI  

Mimic a pergola with wood framing across the ceiling.

Designer: Christ-Christ  

A single Japanese Maple tree can bring in shades of green and deep red.

Architect: SAOTA  

Make a modern path of slab paving stones across wild brush…

Designer: EPT  

… Or across a bed of loose pebbles. These Mexican beach pebbles make a great combination with Foxtail fern.

Visualizer: Mia Design Studio  

Live amongst the lily pads with a miniature lily pond. This one butts up so close against a sofa that you could even sit and dip your feet! Latticework overhead creates a cosy covered feel but still lets sunlight filter through.

Architect: Ambrosi I Etchegaray  
Photographer: Rory Gardiner  

Even if a courtyard is just a pathway from place to place it can still provide soothing garden views to interior spaces.

Photographer: Daniel Koh  

Invest in exterior lighting to add drama to the smallest of details.

Photographer: Daniel Koh  

In a sunken courtyard, flow planting down from upper garden levels. Both this and the previous courtyard are from this beautiful bali retreat.

Architect: Alpes GDB  

A courtyard can form the core of the home. Situate an eye-catching nature design at the base of a stairwell to link your levels via a place of natural serenity. Incorporate built-in planters on the landings to tie the levels together.

Architect: Iván Andrés Quizhpe  

Sometimes, a pathway and a pool are all you need. Looking at a still pool of water can help quiet the mind, feed the soul, and cool the body. The base of a shallow pool can be lined with stones and pebbles to enrich the feature with a natural look. Create a floating pathway effect by leaving small gaps between large stepping stones, and hiding the fixings.

Architect: Geoffrey Bawa  

The architect of the above spaces, Sri Lankan maestro Geoffrey Bawa, is often considered as the father of the “tropical modernism” movement. If you love this style, we encourage you to check out Geoffrey Bawa: The Complete Works.

Architect: Khosla Associates  

This is from a house in south India that is based around a 5000-year-old Indian design practice called Vastu, which can be likened to the practice of Feng Shui.

Designer: De earth  

Simple brickwork planters and grass growing between paving stones give a quaint laid-back vibe.

Designer: Studio Mumbai  

Conjure a dreamlike vista by sinking a water feature into wood flooring, like this house with a courtyard pond.

Photographer: Andy Serrano  

Create a natural looking ravine by lining a stream with craggy rocks.

Designer: WA-SO  

Make hills come alive with trees and moss.

Visualizer: Studio Aiko  

Make a display case for your courtyard. This one has its floor patterned by the Japanese zen garden raking technique.

Architect: Log Urbis  

A glass case can incorporate retractable glass doors to allow access, and to allow the garden space to be incorporated more fully with the interior when desired.

Architect: Carvalho Araújo  

Pulling up a single patio paving slab can be all the opportunity needed to incorporate a little greenery into your life and living space. Put out a sun lounger and enjoy.

Architect: Andrés Stebelski  

This is a house with multiple courtyards, providing interior spaces with a panorama of picturesque trees and shrubs.

Visualizer: Vika Seregina  

Small potted plants line a bank of shelving in this apartment courtyard area, which allows the greenery to be moved and enjoyed in other areas of the home too. A bright red seat has been fashioned around the base of a courtyard tree, which contrasts with the cool blue of a neighbouring kitchen diner. A glass ceiling blurs the boundaries between inside and out.

Find more inspiration and tips for beautiful outdoor living spaces here:

50 Gorgeous Outdoor Patio Design Ideas
50 Modern Outdoor Chairs To Elevate Views of Your Courtyard & Garden

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