As the Covid-19 pandemic starts to wane in the United States outdoor space has never felt more important. Nature restores in a way that almost nothing else can. Doctors now prescribe their patients “daily walks in nature” or “walking barefoot in the grass” as having healing and grounding effects.
Being “out in nature” spans everything from a calling to a way of life. John Muir, John Audubon, and Ansel Adams raised our natural beauty to high art. California is known for its emphasis on the outdoors: from skiing and snowboarding in the winter to surfing, rock climbing, hiking, and camping in the summer. The west coast offers year-round outdoor activities of every stripe.
American GIs came home with fond memories of the courtyards and town squares of Europe, with their little strings of lights, stone pavers, and small tables where neighbors met to gossip and have a glass of wine. Meals were often Al Fresco, eaten in the open air, under an arbor of grapes or a spreading olive tree.
In post-war America, architects and magazines like Sunset began to highlight the concept of indoor-outdoor living. They sold healthy lifestyles of high-tech glass-walled homes that opened to lush yards. The construction materials were of nature: cedar or redwood, and stone.
THIS IS HOUSING THAT PROMISES THE RESTORATIVE POWERS OF NATURE.
Each generation has taken it one step further. Pools, hot tubs, dining tables under a pergola, and the fire pit or fireplace have become ubiquitous. Today’s yard now includes outdoor rooms or “events.” There are spots dedicated to wine tasting. There are bocce courts, dining rooms, and kid play spaces. The simple charcoal grill morphed into an outdoor kitchen with a sink, drink fridge, spit, and pizza oven. All of these events are set up to allow homeowners to live more and more of their life in comfort outdoors.
The California lifestyle is now known far and wide. Midwesterners, in January, dream about sitting in the yard drinking their morning coffee and taking the dog for a walk on the beach.