Where does your mind wander when someone says, “Close your eyes and find your happy place”? For me, some of the most beautiful outdoor scenes I’ve witnessed reappear: a cotton-candy sunset on the Gulf Coast during a family vacation, the shimmering teal water of Silverton’s Ice Lake after a grueling uphill hike, or golden-hour light illuminating the terra-cotta rooftops and pastel-hued buildings of Lisbon. What doesn’t come to mind is my own backyard. (I love my small outdoor space—which has come a long way, aesthetically speaking, from the knee-high-weeds-covered plot it once was—but it’s not exactly Martha Stewart’s Bedford gardens.)

While planning this Outdoor Living issue, I was introduced to some picturesque open-air living spaces, including the sleek Aspen pool house that’s featured on the cover and in “Behind the Design of a Sleek Aspen Poolhouse” and Denver landscape architect Paul Wrona’s family-friendly backyard escape that appears in “Inside a Denver Landscape Architect’s Urban Oasis“. I also had the pleasure of researching fun fabrics and pretty products for the patio, which you’ll find in “We Found, We Love: Jungle-Inspired Outdoor Fabrics” and “Discover Your Personal Outdoor Design Style, from Classic-Chic to Organic-Modern“.

So much outdoor-living inspiration may be just the push I need to boost my backyard this year—whether that means finally adding the pergola I’ve been eyeing, or reviving a withering flower patch. I hope this issue is a useful resource for you and your design goals too. Pretty soon, we won’t have to travel too far to find our happy places.