On Vacation At Home: Bringing Bali to Your Backyard

With the summer fast approaching, we’re interested in creating spaces that relate to the outside and that make us feel like we’re on vacation, even if we’re just hanging out at home. Just what are we imagining when we think of our Balinese oasis? Read on to find out! 

Image via onekindesign.com


The key idea behind Balinese gardens is Tri Hata Karana -- a harmony and balance between the three elements of life: humans, nature, and gods. This can manifest itself in several ways, like furniture made from natural materials like bamboo, wicker, rattan, and teak. 

A vintage rattan sofa provides a neutral seat for this Balinese patio. Image via behangfabriek.com


Sculptures, planters, and urns made out of other more durable but still natural materials like brick and stone are another way to transport your backyard. Often, the sculptures and planters will incorporate symbols and imagery from nature, bringing together the man-made and nature in one object. 

A floral pattern on the stone planter gives texture and visual interest to the piece. Image via gardeningandpatio.com


Of course, another important way to infuse your outdoors with a tropical feel is through the plants you choose! Traditional Balinese landscaping is designed following the existing natural topography, seeking to alter the land as little as possible. You can do this too by keeping hills, streams, and other features, and planting bright, leafy tropical plants like rubber plants, palms, hibiscus, and ferns. Some plants like bamboo even grow well in cold climates! 

A variety of tropical plants provides shading and greenery in this backyard. Image via insideout.com.au


To complement all of the natural greenery you’re planting, you’ll probably want to add some sort of architectural shelter or a pavilion for shade, keeping it as open and near a pond or fountain as possible. Furniture, like a vintage wooden chair or a wicker sofa, should also stay light and neutral, but still resist the elements.


An open pavilion with a thatched roof and wood posts provides the needed shade but remains open to a breeze. Image via insideout.com.au


Other architectural elements that are great to incorporate outside are intricately carved doors and gateways, which can add interest along a pathway and transition between outdoor zones. Smaller pieces like lanterns and fountains are both functional and nature-inspired, and can orient visitors when they’re wandering through the garden. 

A carved wood doorway over a garden path acts as an outdoor landmark. Image via



Stone lanterns are often miniature version of an small building or pavilion. Image via japanskalekt.tumblr.com


If you’re looking to get away from it all without actually needing to go anywhere, a backyard garden revamp might be just what you need! Through a combination of carved benches, stone planters, lush greenery, and some special items like a fountain or carved gate, you can transport yourself to a tropical vacation. Just don’t forget to keep it balanced and natural! 

An outdoor shower, fountain, statues, and walls surround visitors. Image via ultimatebali.com



Kate R.

Kate is a New York-based architect and preservationist, with a love for all things design! 


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