Summer memories are made outdoors, where we can savor fragrant Rosa rugosa, the feel of grass between our toes, the song of the mourning doves or the squawk of gulls, and the sweet taste of corn-on-the-cob hot off the grill. It’s the season to take living outside the confines of our homes into outdoor rooms.

Just like inside, the space outside can be shaped into rooms that serve different purposes, different moods, different degrees of privacy. They don’t have to be strictly rectilinear, symmetrical, or formal. Some, like the series of outdoor rooms featured in the photo above by Alison Shaw from Stick & Stones: The Designs of Lew French are more informal or even somewhat organic in appearance. As with halls in a house, paths, like those seen here, can link outdoor rooms and enhance the journey.

Often the most natural feeling outdoor rooms are those shaped by the house itself and an outbuilding or two. In the image above, Islander Lew French created a terrace in the crook of the ell of the antique house that you see to the left. Formed by a mix of large and small, irregular shaped pieces of granite and fieldstone expertly pieced together, the terrace is anchored on one edge by a robust elevated fire pit nestled between two impressive boulders. Though it’s shown unfurnished, the terrace would be a wonderful setting for alfresco dining, not too far from the convenience of the kitchen and within sight of a fire in the pit, which would beckon after dinner as daylight dwindles.

Beyond the terrace room, a stone path made of the same rugged terrace materials and patterning leads past a repurposed millstone that serves as a table of sorts or bench in-the-round and has been planted with sedums. The millstone is a pivot point between the route to the driveway courtyard on the far side of the hedges and the route to outdoor rooms that become increasingly private as you move away from the house. The first of these is a smaller grass room, edged by the stone path on one side and a more domestic brick path on the opposite side. The end of the house, softened by border plantings, and the hedge extending from the barn (on the right) form two taller walls completing the borders of the grass room. Here, you might set an Adirondack chair or two and a small side table to host glasses of iced tea while you and perhaps a companion linger with a book or magazine in a slightly softer, more intimate space, not too far from the house.

Venture further from the house, toward the top of the photo, and encounter French’s standing rock wall which conceals an outdoor shower and a more removed, private outdoor room and garden shaped in part by the back of the barn. Outdoor rooms that are linked together like these invite movement through them so that you experience the different environment each has to offer. They inspire us to imagine a broader sense of home, one that encompasses the rooms we shape outdoors in the spaces in between.

Katie Hutchison is a New England ar chitect with Vineyard family and clients. She’s the author of The New Small House. More at