6 Things People With 'Sitooteries' Have — and Why Your Backyard Needs One This Spring

The best sitooteries always have these 6 components, but what are they? We ask the landscape architects and designers

An outdoor seating area
(Image credit: Bess Friday. Design: Spiegel Aihara Workshop)

I first came across the term 'Sitooterie' last year, and have since been obsessed with the idea of having one in my own backyard. A classic sitooterie has its roots in Scottish culture but we think they make sense in modern backyards all over the world.

They are characterized as outdoor seating areas with an element of privacy and seclusion. Essentially, they are an outdoor space to relax and a place to feel grounded in nature. 'Whether you are already acquainted with the term or not, the sitooterie is the secret ingredient to transforming your outdoor space into a haven for relaxation or a cozy spot for social gatherings,' says David Thompson, principal and founder of Assembledge. 

Crucially, a sitooterie doesn't need to be an actual structure and can be as simple as a pair of outdoor Adirondack chairs in your favorite backyard spot. 'Crafting a sitooterie can be imagined as curated moments of privacy, tranquility, and relaxation all wrapped in nature's warm embrace,' says Jacob JeBailey of Reign Architects Inc. To help you carve out your own cozy corner in your modern backyard, we've come up with six sitooterie essentials.

1. Cozy seating

A rooftop garden

(Image credit: Ty Cole OTTO; Interiors: 2Michaels Design; Architecture: Matthew Baird Architects; Landscaping: RKLA Studio)

This might sound obvious, but of course, the building blocks of your sitooterie are the seats themselves. From a pair of outdoor deck chairs to a simple bench to even a suspended swing that hangs from your favorite tree, there are no rules when it comes to picking outdoor seating. The priority here should be anything that gives you that dedicated space for relaxing.

'The heart of the sitooterie experience is creating a comfortable atmosphere,' says David Thompson, founder and principal of Assembledge.

'A simple bench with plush cushions, an inviting outdoor sectional sofa, or a charming table surrounded by chairs all provide versatile seating for everything from casual chit-chats to impromptu mid-day naps,'

2. A view

A sitooterie with a view

(Image credit: Catherine Tighe Design: Douglas Hoerr and Scrafano Architects)

The success of a sitooterie lies in its harmony with the surrounding landscape and views. 'Whether you want a snug spot for soaking up the sunset or a shaded retreat to savor a cold drink on a warm day, strategic placement is the key to unlocking the full potential of your outdoor space,' says David.

Picking the perfect spot for your sitooterie must make sense with the architecture and footprint of your outdoor space, which can be a problem in cityscapes, points out Jacob JeBailey of Reign Architects Inc. But if you have a small backyard or awkward layout, there are ways to spin the problems and turn them into solutions, according to Jacob.

'Dense urban environments can pose challenges in place-making, but strategic design can transform even the most compact spaces. For example, a well-placed tall fence or monolithic wall, for example, becomes more than a barrier. It sculpts a private oasis,' says Jacob. 'This amplifies the perceived size and creates a muted canvas for your personalized haven.'

3. Relaxing lighting

A sheltered veranda sitooterie

(Image credit: Staghorn NYC)

Lighting your sitooterie emphasizes the destination in the backyard. Consider simple decking lighting with string lights that shine light from above, to spotlights installed at the base of a stone wall or other hardscape feature, there are many ways to ensure your sitooterie is bathed in light, even when the light fades.

Think about where your light shines too, and use the landscape and sculptural nature of surrounding plants or trees to your advantage. 'Picture feature plantings bathed in mood lighting, all within your own little urban escape,' says Jacob. 'The possibilities are endless, and the rewards immeasurable – a space to truly unwind, reconnect, and savor moments of curated serenity.'

4. The right outdoor materials

An outdoor seating area

(Image credit: Bess Friday. Design: Spiegel Aihara Workshop)

The best sitooteries are made from materials that withstand the elements to make sure it's a backyard retreat throughout the year, come rain or shine. 'Sitooteries are all about taking clients away from the busy household and creating an enticing, refreshing, and convenient outdoor escape,' says designer Ellie Mroz

When it comes to modern outdoor furniture, some materials are more durable than others. Teak is a popular choice for outdoor wooden furniture, with natural oils that make it naturally resistant to moisture and fading as a consequence of sunlight. Other woods need regular maintenance to ensure it lasts. Make sure you add a weather sealant to the furniture and all-weather varnish to stop it from being impacted by rain and sunshine.

Powder-coated aluminum and steel are materials to trust if you're selecting pieces for your sitooterie furniture. The metal doesn't fade as a result of moisture and you can easily add pigment to powder-coated steel to bring a pop of color to your outdoor seating area.

5. Some sort of table

An outdoor seating area with table

(Image credit: Eric Petschek. Design: Starling Architecture)

Tables aren't just for interiors, and an outdoor coffee table or end table will help ground your sitooterie and turn it from a pair of chairs into a space that feels like a destination. An outdoor table, no matter the size, can encourage people to gather and stimulate conversation when used by guests.

'Choose the perfect table drinks and a space to read,' suggests Ellie. 'An outdoor ottomans is another great option.' In this example by Starling Architecture, a simple table makes the perfect place for placing a glass of wine, close to hand.

6. A heat source

A seating area with firepit

(Image credit: Emily Caterochon. Design: Jessie Lane Interiors)

A heat source makes a great addition to your sitooterie, enabling you to sit out as the light fades and the temperature dips. A heat source like a firepit also creates a cozy focal point. 'The combo of crisp air and warmth is the ultimate in calm,' says Susan Skornicka.

Firepits can be natural or gas-lit, but whatever option you choose, they always invite you to unwind. Heat lamps don't have to be self-standing or obtrusive, but instead can be hidden in overhangs and nearby walls. 'It could be a fireplace, a free-standing heat lamp, or ceiling lamp, or wall-mounted heat lamps,' suggests Ellie.

Shope sitooterie essentials

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.