Enchanting and unexpected with an air of European chic, entry courtyards are having a moment in American design. Here, designer Robin Rains, architect Douglas Enoch and landscape architect Anne Daigh discuss the interdisciplinary genesis of this Nashville jewel box.
Why a courtyard? DE: It’s a fairly urban setting and we wanted to make use of the entire lot. I grew up in the south, where there are many “surprise courtyards”—I love that idea of a surprise behind a gate. AD: Privacy was also very important; the clients wanted to sit outside in the mornings and have their coffee in seclusion. RR: It’s actually along a sidewalk, but enclosed so that you can’t see in. Doug built this beautiful brick wall with an arched doorway and we commissioned a custom copper lantern to hang high above. It really beckons you in.
Tell us about the design. AD: We planted two crepe myrtles, which create a pergola and make you feel like you’re in an outdoor room. Then we included a more structured landscape with dwarf boxwood hedges and hydrangeas billowing out. I think the scale and the simplicity of the space—the way it wraps around you—is what makes it so charming. DE: Each of the four facades is symmetrical, so wherever you’re sitting is a relaxing experience. Anne respected that beautifully and the decor Robin chose was perfect in its light, sophisticated character. RR: The clients love a European ethos, so we used French limestone paving and carried it inside for seamless transition. For furniture, we chose Janus et Cie’s Amalfi iron canopy chairs and floated them in the courtyard as “sculpture furniture.” We wanted simple yet inviting.
What makes the room? DE: The two pear espaliers attract me immediately; they echo the architectural symmetry and soften the walls. AD: Those pear trees create another level of sophistication and rustic provenance. Plus, they actually produce beautiful lime green pears! RR: To me, the espaliers are another sculpture. Imagine going out into your courtyard to fetch a little breakfast? It really feels like you’re in France.
Tune into the Garden Tour segment on DesignTV to hear more behind-the-scenes details on this enchanting courtyard.