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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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photos by Paul Eichler

The Urban Oasis 

Architect Paul Eichler designs luxury homes for a living, the sprawling suburban kind where no expense is spared.

But when it came time to create his own space, Eichler, president of Archipello architecture design firm in Pittsburgh, tossed both the literal and proverbial blueprints out the window. His more than 3,400-square-foot, industrial-meets-residential new build in Lawrenceville, featuring an exterior of corrugated aluminum and cement board siding, rises for four stories and offers technological frills and outdoor amenities akin to a high-end hotel.

Plus, he did it all on a budget.

“I wanted to keep it timeless, and I didn’t want to overdesign,” Eichler says. “We’re in the city, but I didn’t want the ultra-modern feel; I wanted it to feel warm.”

The interior captures that feeling with wide windows, bamboo floors, a gourmet, eat-in kitchen and fun, techy gadgets, such as a color-changing water vapor fireplace.

“It looks like fire, but you can put your hand in it,” Eichler says.


But the outside is the showstopper. Eichler carved strategically placed cutouts into the corrugated metal exterior to achieve maximum sunshine, privacy and party capacity. 

The party starts at the top of the house — which you can reach via elevator — with a fully stocked rooftop bar and integrated sound system. The west-facing porch looks out over the city and gets full sun in the afternoon.


Following a house-warming party last year, Eichler added a sliding canvas cover to the area to cool things down when the weather is too sticky. The top level also features a sundeck, covered in grass, which serves as Eichler’s rooftop driving range. (Don’t worry, a net catches the golf balls before they can sail out over the neighborhood.)   

The pièce de résistance, however, is the second-floor deck, which is home to a 3,500-gallon, heated, saltwater plunge pool. A faux boxwood wall makes the deck private and a prime spot for sunbathing, while a waterfall at the far end drowns out the sounds of urban life. 

Though Eichler spent one year designing, and close to another year building, his dream house, he says it’s still not complete. He has flourishes he’d like to add this year, including a flush fire feature on the pool deck. 

“I love design,” Eichler says. “So we’re always making improvements.”

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