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These Three Amazing Outdoor Spaces Will Inspire You

From a rural “entertainment barn” to a suburban oasis and an urban rooftop driving range, these innovative spaces have one thing in common — they’re all awesome.

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Entertainment Barn photos by Denmarsh Studios


Ask any Pittsburgh native to describe a summer in southwest Pennsylvania and you’ll likely get some variation of partly cloudy, humid and, of course, short. Way. Too. Short.

The brevity makes an outdoor sanctuary a Pittsburgh imperative — you have to make the most out of the weather you’re dealt. 

Three homeowners in the region certainly will be making the most of their summers. This trio of amazing and inspiring outdoor spaces—one rural, one urban and one suburban—are stocked with shrewd practicalities and innovative surprises, offering design inspiration and a bit of real estate envy.

The Rural Retreat

The homeowner’s bold plan to transform an existing, timber-frame barn into a luxurious Laurel Mountains getaway and entertainment space quickly fizzled, as best-laid plans so often do.

The century-old structure was falling apart and lacked a proper foundation. A renovation would have been difficult and costly and required compromises no one wanted to make. So the architects at DLA+ Architecture & Interior Design in Green Tree suggested a different route: Tear the barn down and start anew.

Well, kind of.


Though the resulting “entertainment barn,” as they call it, technically is new construction, it retains the character and silhouette of the original building. The frame was erected the old-fashioned way by an Amish construction crew using true mortise and tenon timber joints. The demolition team salvaged some of the original barn siding, which was repurposed as wooden slat walls in the new build. 

“We really wanted to recall and honor the structure of the original barn,” says project architect Geoffrey Lester. 


The result is 1,950 square feet of agrarian opulence housing two bedroom suites, an apron of hickory floors, an outdoor kitchen, a massive double-sided stone fireplace, an aquarium-style wine storage case and a system of folding glass doors that open to a flagstone patio and 16 acres of rolling countryside.

“It has both a rustic and an artistic feel to it,” says construction project manager Jim Roberts.

Of all the unique design touches Lester included, Roberts points to the staircase as his favorite. The cantilever-style treads rise from the main floor to the second-story guest suite and feature a metal-and-wire railing.

“It’s a sculptural feature that purposefully contrasts the traditional timber frame structure,” Lester says.

The barn is one of three buildings DLA+ renovated or constructed on the property, and it’s not the only lesson in contrast. In addition to the barn and a restored farmhouse, Lester and his team dismantled a corncrib chicken coop and reassembled the pieces to create a lavish outhouse (yes, that’s a thing) with running water.

“We completed all three buildings at about the same time,” Lester says. “We liked the idea that all of the pieces work together. It’s a true campus.”

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