The Space Between

Springtime is a fleeting moment of transition between mild winters and scorching summers. Like our strange and wonderful weather, our outdoor living areas reflect a life lived both indoors and outdoors. Here, we take a look at how designers created beautiful living spaces to marry the amenities and style of a home interior with natural elements and outdoor activities.



After an architect convinced a couple in their early thirties to redo their outdoor living space in lieu of adding an addition to their Travis Heights home, the couple reached out to their friend Stephen Breaux, principal at Breaux Design Group. During their initial conversations, the homeowners explained that they wanted a versatile place to entertain, but also an intimate space where they could relax.

The Design Approach

“We tried to make a strong connection between living spaces, inside and out,” says Breaux. Since the topography of the property was heavily terraced, the final design featured three different levels, each with their own unique purpose. Breaux designed the closest space to the house to retain a level of intimacy, while most of the entertaining space (which is one level above) is adjacent to the pool.

The Execution

“It’s not so much [what materials] you use; it’s how you use [them],” explains Breaux about utilizing hardscape and softscape materials, the majority of which were sourced within a hundred miles. The look and feel of the outdoor living space directly outside the home is restrained, but with each inclining level the landscape becomes less refined and much more wild. The homeowners now enjoy a tiered space that transforms into a wild oasis that is intimate yet sprawling.


Designed by Stephen Breaux, Principal & Landscape Architect, Breaux Design Group | Photographs by Richard Casteel

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The homeowners travel frequently, and use their Bouldin home as a sanctuary in which to relax. The couple asked for an outdoor living space that could comfortably fit a small gathering, but could also transform into something much more intimate and secluded.

The Design Approach

“It is one of the big reasons why the outdoor courtyard was internalized,” says DIG:A Principal Craig Hoverman, of the clients’ desire to create an intimate escape. Since the homeowners also like to entertain, two large pocket doors were installed between the kitchen and living room which open to create one large open air space for guests. Along opposite sides of the courtyard are two private spaces, a small den and the master suite, both of which get plenty of sunlight and a view of the courtyard.

The Execution

Hoverman’s design took full advantage of five heritage oaks on the property. (In fact, he created a structural floor plan that afforded every room a view of the majestic trees.) “Although [the property] feels so open, it is actually incredibly private and secluded. You can drive down the street and miss it every time,” says Hoverman.

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Designed by Craig Hoverman, Principal, DIG: A | Photographs by Tom Coplen



In 2013, owners of the popular eatery The Grove, Betsy Clemons and her husband, Reed, decided to revamp the backyard of their home near Mount Bonnell. The restaurateur couple knew they wanted to create a gourmet outdoor kitchen, as well as install a putting green for Reed, an avid golfer. Betsy, designer and manager of her own landscaping company, Dig Austin, had the unique advantage of designing for herself.

The Design Approach

Because the swimming pool and deck area were already in place before the project was started, Betsy turned her focus to the three-hole putting green, which, though labor-intensive to install, requires very little maintenance. “[Artificial turf] is a great solution for an area where you want grass,” explains Betsy.

The Execution

The outdoor kitchen, which boasts a gas grill, a refrigerator and a Big Green Egg — an oval-shaped ceramic grill that’s perfect for smoking meat — is Reed’s domain. The chef is a graduate of Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School (now called the Institute of Culinary Education). But when he’s not boiling large pots of lobster for guests or smoking barbecue, Reed spends his time chipping around the putting green.



Betsy Clemons, Owner, Dig Austin | Photographs by Travis Hallmark

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Interior designer Robin Colton first collaborated with her clients when they were newlyweds living in a condo in The Austonian. When the time came for the couple to purchase a single-family home, they once again tasked Colton with the design. The client’s wish list included a lawn for their dogs and a pool for the husband, an avid swimmer.

The Design Approach

“We needed to turn the property into a living space as opposed to just a beautiful outdoor space,” explains Colton. When the couple first purchased the Tarrytown home, most of the backyard was gravel surrounding a tiny patch of grass. But since the clients frequently hosted dinner parties, Colton sought to create multiple spaces for entertaining, including a fire pit area adjacent to the swimming pool.

The Execution

To help facilitate flow, Colton designed a screened-in porch to provide a seamless pathway for guests to move from the kitchen into the backyard. For the landscaping, Colton collaborated with designer Robert Leeper, who worked with the home’s previous owners. Together they created an outdoor living space that’s inviting and multifunctional.

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Robin Colton, Owner & Principal Designer, Robin Colton Studio | Robert Leeper, Landscape Designer, Robert Leeper Landscapes | Photographs by Ryann Ford



A young, single entrepreneur who lived on the east side bought a home in the Barton Creek neighborhood with nearly an acre of backyard space that was dotted with mature trees. For the project, the client was looking for a modern outdoor living space to entertain but also wanted something that catered to his active lifestyle.

The Design Approach

Since the client enjoys working out on a regular basis, Jose Roberto Corea of Austin Outdoor Design sought to create an adult playground. The initial designs included everything from a Crossfit-style obstacle course to a sand volleyball court and in-ground trampoline. Though the initial plan was dotted with fun activities, the designer soon realized that a swanky hangout space for friends was a more practical solution for his client.

The Execution

The outdoor living room just off the pool features a custom fire pit, concrete couches poured on site and color-changing LED lighting. The orange upholstery was also custom-made and was used “to contrast with the green grass and the Massaranduba decking,” explains Corea. “Lighting was also important to the client”, says Corea, who brought in moonlights and lighted bar seating to add ambiance. The result is a space that’s bold, modern and fresh.



Jose Roberto Corea, Design Principal, Austin Outdoor Design | Photographs by David De Gendt



A young family was looking for an outdoor living space that could grow with their active children. Though the home sits at the edge of a cliff with a panoramic vista of Lake Austin, the client also hoped to give their kids a lawn on which to play.

The Design Approach

The project began as a home remodel, but after the pool and landscaping was near completion, the client decided to level the main home and start from scratch. This decision allowed the homeowners to design an entirely new structure that maximized the view of the landscape and the swimming pool that were already installed, says Benjamin Lasseter, president of operations at Design Ecology. In this sense, the outdoor living space became a design anchor that guided the rest of the building process.

The Execution

For the deck, Lasseter used a composite material designed to look like real wood but requiring much less maintenance. Lighting was incorporated into the tree canopy so the family can enjoy the pool well into those balmy summer nights. The final design is something the homeowners and their kids can enjoy for years to come.



Benjamin Lasseter, President of Operations & Scott Cummings, Principal Landscape Architect, Design Ecology | Photographs by Benjamin Lasseter


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