In the heart of the Midwest we are fortunate to have a true four season climate. However, when the winter has grown long with cold and dreary days, admittedly there are many who may argue if this climate is, in fact, one to actually feel fortunate about! I personally love having four seasons. I have lived in the South where the winters are mild and, while oftentimes that is very nice, I did miss the potential of a white Christmas and snuggling in on a cold winter day. I also believe that when you do have a “real” winter it makes those first warm days of spring feel even sweeter as we finally can get outdoors!
Here in my little Brookside pocket of Kansas City, outdoor living is a huge part of everyday life. Front porches are King in this enclave of mature tree-lined streets and century-old homes. As soon as the cold snap of winter ends and the last bit of ice is melting away you will, most likely, find the residents of Brookside out on their front porches as if re-emerging from a long hibernation. Outdoor furniture gets washed off and colorful pillows and cushions brighten up home fronts as the grey of winter makes way for the verdant green of spring.
Yes, front porch living is a big part of the culture of Brookside, but there are also many beautiful backyard oases to be found as well. Tucked into the shade of ancient Oak and Walnut trees, many homeowners have created lovely spaces in which to relax or entertain in the privacy of their backyards.
Thanks to the generosity of my Brookside neighbors and friends, we get to take a peek into some of my favorite outdoor spaces in the neighborhood!
Under the canopy of a lacy Japanese Maple, this front porch conversation area provides a breezy spot to sit and relax.
This home’s generous covered front porch is a shady spot for a visit.
On a nice day, this stone front porch offers a quiet spot to rock and relax.
This lovely Brookside home provides the homeowner with a fantastic spot to dine and entertain on their covered front porch.
A table fashioned from an antique door serves as extra table space or a buffet for entertaining, as well as a perfect spot for potting plants.
A lush side yard with stone path leads to the home’s backyard where the children rule all they survey in an adorable tree house built by the homeowner.
While the kids play, the adults are well provided for in this backyard retreat as well. A custom-built sectional seating area with twin fire pits beckons for evening cocktails and conversation.
Kansas City based Interior Designer, Lisa Schmitz, of Lisa Schmitz Interior Design has created a sleek and contemporary outdoor gathering space at her Brookside home.
Photo: Mike Sinclair
Located off the home’s recently added kitchen, their outdoor space offers a perfect flow for entertaining.
Photo: Mike Sinclair
When not being used for camping trips, the family’s vintage Airstream trailer plays a prominent role as a feature in the patio space.
Photo: Mike Sinclair
In this family’s stately home, indoor/outdoor living is achieved seamlessly in a beautiful and luxe setting.
The outdoor “room” was built by the homeowners to provide a place for their family to enjoy as well as the perfect spot to entertain friends.
A comfortable sectional sofa provides the perfect spot to watch a game or to gather while cooking dinner on the built-in grill.
The space, designed by Natalie O’Shaughnessy of O’Home Interiors boasts a stone fireplace with decorative wood wall hangings.
A custom bar-height wood table sits next to the room’s impressive retractable screen wall.
The screen wall can be automatically raised to turn the space into a true “outdoor” room or lowered to keep out pesky mosquitoes while still maintaining an outside feel. Space heaters installed along the perimeter of the ceiling keep the space warm and comfortable on chilly evenings.
Outdoor spaces aren’t always designed specifically for the humans of the home. Sometimes other “family members” find themselves with thoughtfully and beautifully designed spaces as well, as is the case at the lovely curated and designed home of Stephanie Agne, owner of the Kansas City handcrafted home goods shop, Golden & Pine.
A backyard chicken coop, built entirely by Stephanie’s husband Danny, is home to the family’s brood of 7 chickens.
The custom herringbone-patterned wood front door gives the residents of this backyard coop bragging rights that they have one of the prettiest front doors in town.
The roost consists of Crusted Cream hens that provide the family with blue eggs.
Welsummers lay speckled eggs and Black Copper Marian’s lay dark brown eggs.
In our own Brookside home, we have several outdoor spaces in which we spend a great deal of time.
Many quiet evenings have been spent in conversation on our front porch flanked by a crimson Japanese Maple.
Our backyard deck overlooks a flagstone yard and the Trolley Track Trail, a popular green space and track for runners, bikers and dog walkers. Newly installed cable rail provides a seamless view of the landscape from the deck.
A backyard path decorated with a Dwarf Japanese Maple and Honeysuckle Vine leads to a wrought iron gated entrance to our “little bit of New Orleans in Kansas City.” Our courtyard.
The courtyard is lit by white twinkle lights in the evening to help evoke a serene, cozy atmosphere in which to gather. The courtyard of our home even served as the setting of my sister’s wedding. It is one of our favorite spaces.
Whether your outdoor space be large or small, carefully designed, or simply a comfortable chair pulled up under a shade tree, getting outside and spending time in the bit of nature that surrounds us is pleasing to the soul.