Building a Courtyard

allium growing in the courtyard

view from the window in the courtyard

Along with the sunroom, the courtyard has been the other major addition to the old schoolmasters house, built on the bare expanse of land out the back of the kitchen.

Just one of the clippings on my inspiration board, taken from an unknown magazine

Courtyards can have a dreamlike quality; the enclosed flower filled space, the covered eating area dripping with grape vines, the table set with a white cloth. Inspiration found in photos of simple Mediterranean outdoor rooms, protected from the sun and harsh winds.

the bare backyard, putting marking stakes in the ground

…stage one, the newly built brick walls

All I had to start with was a scrappy, weedy patch of land. A path that once led to an outdoor toilet. Apparently two former opera singers used to live in the house & would sing outside on the warm nights, to the listening kangaroos in the paddock over the fence.

a Sunday lunch in the half finished courtyard

My hope had been to build out of reclaimed bricks, but just a little investigation revealed how expensive that would be. So regular bricks then, two walls either side, a low wall at the end and eventually, above it a timber beam to grow wisteria on and frame the view.

Avenue of poplars in the village

gravel going in, window ready to be cut out

But it was a mistake to have a solid wall obscuring the view, it gave the courtyard an suburban feel, like you were sitting in a city back yard. The solution – to cut out a window and make some shutters. A surprisingly quick operation, the vista it opened up meant the magic of the countryside came flooding into the space.

a herd of wild goats up at the lookout

a cicada rests on the half painted wall

The next design challenge was to get the right colour on the walls. After many samples and tests that were never quite right, I ended up taking an old brick made in the area, to Porters paints for them to colour match it in a limewash finish. After a few big days of painting and spraying the walls with water so that the lime would come through, the result was a dusty pink, filled with depth and warmth.

Finally, a structure built out of local tree posts and sawn timber. Vegetables, vines, herbs and a lemon tree planted, all seemed to take instantly, happy in the little microclimate of the courtyard, protected from the wind and enjoying the warmth coming off the walls.

a white tablecloth… now for the vines to grow!

the rabbits haven’t found the lettuces yet, maybe they can’t get across the gravel…


8 Responses to “Building a Courtyard”

  1. Margaret says:

    The bones look great, interested to know what vines you will be growing in your climate?

    • Ingridweir says:

      Hi Margaret, have planted an ornamental grape vine from a friend’s father, and a clematis, which isn’t supposed to work in this climate, but seems to be flourishing! Best, Ingrid

  2. tina says:

    Wow! Thank you for sharing the creation of the courtyard.
    Love that med. inspiration photo..

    Am so glad you broke through that wall with a window. That view….
    Love the painting process too.

    How beautiful your table setting is and that sun ( we are in the depth of winter here;))

    Truly beautiful! Hope you are well xx

    • Ingridweir says:

      Hi Tina, thank you. Glad to be providing some sunshine to your part of the world… all good here x i

  3. Shari says:

    Ingrid ~
    relishing your photographs! The shot of the cut-thru into your courtyard wall is stunning. Such a view you behold!! All of these images have a unique quality.. maybe the camera you use? Certainly fun to see… including that cicada bug!! :-) Shari

    • Ingridweir says:

      Thank you Shari. I use a few different cameras; Canon 60D, a nikon film camera, and iphone and the new Samsung Galaxy. The light in this part of the country is very beautiful, it can get a lovely pinky gold glow which I try to capture, all the best, Ingrid

  4. That is such a beautiful view through the window in the courtyard framing the distant buildings, just so poetic.
    Just love the garden with the purple flowers, it really is such a treat to walk by your home. Congratulations Ingrid.