I am writing this letter high above the Gulf of Mexico, somewhere between Central America and the southern United States. I’m returning home from Costa Rica, where people from around the globe travel just to spend time outside, and now I understand why: In one week, my family and I trekked miles of lush rainforest, disappeared into the morning fog on a zipline, surfed the waves (well, tried to catch waves), and soaked up the hot sun at Tamarindo, one of the country’s prettiest beach towns.
One really doesn’t have to travel that far to enjoy the outdoors right now, though. In this issue of At Home we’ll show you how three St. Louis families have personalized their backyard spaces to get that destination-like feel just steps from home. You can also find inspiration to create a setting that’s perfectly suited to your lifestyle.
For more homes made beautiful inside and outside, don’t miss the stories on homes designed by Amy Studebaker and Ken Stückenschneider, who dazzle us with their visions for spaces that invite a tranquil night at home and are ideal for hosting a family gathering or a large group of friends for dinner.
Mary Morgan’s story “City Gardens,” coupled with the environs on my recent south-of-the-border jaunt, makes me wish I had the time and the patience to cultivate a garden of my own. In the absence of those and other important requirements, I’m content to pore over these pages of beautiful landscape photography shot by Greg Rannells. Mary’s survey of gardens, terraces, and patios is a reminder that multiple styles can live, and thrive, even in the same city block.
Why invest so much time, money, and effort in our outdoor spaces? Don’t our indoor rooms demand enough from us, in terms of both budget and mental energy? While visiting one of Costa Rica’s largest butterfly conservatories in the hills above the city of El Castillo, I happened upon a small sign that read something like this: Do not spend your time chasing the butterflies; instead, build a garden, and they will come to you. Words to live—and design—by.