Creating cozy outdoor rooms in your Alabama landscape

Story and Photos by Loretta Gillespie

An outdoor room can be many things to many people. It can be a kitchen with all new appliances and gadgets galore; it can be rustic with natural elements, and anything in between. In today’s eclectic world of décor, there is something for everyone, and if your room is outside, the sky is the limit!  

Garden rooms needn’t be fussy or frilly; they can be as relaxed and comfortable. Shrubs can serve as “walls” between areas and pathways or other garden features.

Fire pits and fireplaces are wonderful additions to a garden, providing nighttime gathering places for family and friends. Fire pits or fireplaces can be made of metal, brick, stone, or pavers. Safety is of utmost importance, so make sure to have enough room for people to sit. Overhanging foliage is also a concern, so be sure to trim away any overhanging limbs. 

A small nook between two trees is just the right size for drinks and snacks.

If your area includes an arbor, vines offer the perfect solution – making your garden room cozier while providing shelter from the hot sun, as well as offering birds a place to nest.

Adding lights and even speakers that fill your garden with soothing music will set the stage for garden parties or just quiet evenings at home. 

The pathway leading to the Glovers’ garden retreat is made of concrete pavers. In its center is a flowerbed filled with annuals – including Begonia and dusty miller (Senecio cineraria).

Garden rooms need only a clear space to walk to the seating area; the “floor” of such areas can be mulch, pebbles, flagstone, brick, or other material. They need focal points – maybe a statue or a table with a beautiful centerpiece, or a swing or benches to sit and soak up the lovely view. Lighting is optional, but can add a wonderful ambiance after dark, when the garden takes on a magical new life with the calling of night birds, frogs, and insects. 

This lovely garden getaway was built after the garden was established. Gerald and Ann Glover of Moulton love sitting in their serene, open air garden room, which also eliminated some mowing for Gerald!

Garden rooms needn’t be fussy or frilly; they can be as relaxed and comfortable as your den. Add some durable seating and maybe a small table or a glider. Shrubs can act as “living walls” between these areas and pathways or other garden features. 

Perhaps the best garden rooms are those that are unexpected. If your garden has a large tree, or a wall of some kind, you might think about tucking a little seating area behind these, a surprise for those who come to visit your garden. 

Gazebos can be garden rooms if you sit them in the middle of a garden! Surrounded by towering trees, ferns, Impatiens, and more and furnished with a swing, chaise lounges, and comfy chairs, this is the perfect place to enjoy lazy summer afternoons.

These rooms can be functional as well as beautiful. You can tuck garden tools into weatherproof chests then use them it as a coffee table, keep insect repellant hidden behind a potted plant, or glasses and dinnerware in a rolling cart parked nearby. 

Whatever your taste, garden rooms are an inviting place to enjoy the outdoors, along with some of the comforts of indoors. They beckon visitors to relax, have a quiet conversation over a cup of coffee, or just take in the sights and sounds of spring that we are all guilty of being too busy to do often enough.

This garden room is actually the entrance to a greenhouse, built to hide the Quonset structure from view. It offers a cool getaway with its ceiling fans and open lattice walls.

Plan your garden room so that it gets shade in the afternoon. Overhead covering for your garden room is optional, but gives you the option of sitting outside while enjoying the sound of the rain. 

Garden rooms are meant to be enjoyed! Make the most of your garden by giving yourself the gift of living among the beauty surrounding in your new space.

Scroll to Top