Inside-Out Living

Warmed with heat lamps, hot tubs, and hygge, these
haute outdoor spaces pay their dues year-round


Outdoor settings are the preferred venues for pandemic-era human interaction, but winter’s arrival presents some obvious challenges, particularly in certain parts of the country. Thankfully, the solution to hosting safe, socially-distant gatherings can be right in your backyard. We searched Corcoran listings nationwide for the best open-air living spaces to spread out without spreading even when Jack Frost shows up (but he’d better be wearing a mask).

We could ramble out volumes praising the 9,000 square feet of interior space at this spectacular 1927 townhouse, boasting a contemporary expansion by Alastair Standing AIA. But let’s focus on the 2,547 of outdoor wonder, which include not only three balconies and a full-length roof terrace but this private 40-foot-deep back garden with a hot tub. The dining patio has plenty of room for a socially-distant afternoon cookout, and the spa adds the ultra-luxe way to turn things up when the sun and temperatures drop. A little February chill works wonders for any splash-time selections from the home’s thousand-bottle wine cellar, which connects via dumbwaiter to the garden-level pantry. Who wouldn’t want to hop in a little hot tub time machine and toast to the better days ahead?

As if brownstone-Brooklyn townhouse living wasn’t desirable enough, this 24-foot-wide beauty in Cobble Hill received a 25-foot-wide addition that not only left enough spacious, intact backyard to enjoy but transformed the kitchen into this dreamy indoor-outdoor space, designed for year-round al fresco dining before necessity made it a trend. A sliding glass door system is the seamless bridge from the eat-in cook space to a covered terrace, outfitted with the obligatory heat lamps just steps above the landscaped garden. Best of all, the top level of that addition—it covers three of the four levels (not including the basement)—acts as a rooftop terrace.

While East End living has always placed considerable emphasis on outdoor moments (albeit mostly through summer), it’s somewhat rare to find what might qualify as a true outdoor room. This stunning Shelter Island Heights retreat—a surreal rework of an 1890s classic and all the stone, shingle, and copper that came with it—is one of the exceptions, showcasing high-fashion exterior space of the highest order. Out French doors and industrial-style gridded windows lies a bonafide outdoor dining room, which flanks a robust rock fireplace under a wisteria-topped pergola with designer lighting. Just down a footpath, you’ll find a dedicated grilling area with an Argentine barbecue, smoker, and a wood-fired Tuscan pizza oven. We can’t picture a dreamier setting for a socially-distant asado.

Cold weather of course seems like the least of a South Floridian’s concerns, but even the tropical climate of the Sunshine State isn’t immune to that occasionally-crisp evening, especially on the water. You’ll hardly feel the chill at this Venetian Islands waterfront, where a covered back patio compounds a conversation pit with a fire pit—all overlooking the infinity-edge pool, private dock, and the twinkle of Biscayne Bay. The adjacent summer kitchen makes it easy to grill up snacks, and a stepping stone walkway leads to additional patio space with hanging lounge chairs. Did we mention there’s another full level of modern terrace bliss upstairs?

With its glassy, minimalist designthis modern Pacific Coast compound is something of an enigma for Olde Del Mar, a beachfront village just north of San Diego where you’ll find juice bars in storybook-Tudor buildings and medieval-inspired stone arches covered in ivy. Consider that juxtaposition just its charm. The open-concept living space of the chic Contemporary extends through retractible walls to a lamp-heated patio, seamlessly extending its stylish interior outside. It’s all framed by handsome landscaping that’s as much a scenic element as a bridge to the guest house, though the best views of all are enjoyed from the upstairs roof deck.

Nested on five serene acres in the Troon section of Scottsdale, this handsome adobe has much to offer. Few defining features, however, stand out more than this classic Mission-style courtyard, filled with trees, cactus garden, and intimate conversation areas that make outdoor entertaining a breeze—all in a place where the breeze rarely drops to an uncomfortably-frigid degree. There’s a covered patio with a hot tub around the corner, and a stuccoed staircase connects the expansive roof deck, beckoning perfect mountain, city light, and sunset views.

Warm up to more listings nationwide at