There's much to be said for escaping without going away: no luggage, traffic, airports. Step out of the house into a garden pavilion, and your mind is released to drift at will. "You feel like you've gone halfway around the world, yet you haven't left home," says Ann Foster. Ready to escape? Let's push off.
To travel to "the tropics," Ann and Hank Foster just walk out their door and follow the steps down their sloping side yard in Santa Barbara, CA. Near the bottom, completely hidden from view by a canopy of fishtail palms and a screen of timber bamboo, is a teak-floored, tile-roofed pavilion that looks straight out of Bali. Tropical plants surround it. The sounds of rustling palm fronds and splashing water, as well as the sensation of floating just above the landscaping, create instant serenity. "It's like I've drifted off to the islands," says Ann.
Though the Fosters entertain in their pavilion, they use it mostly as a personal retreat. "It's the perfect nap spot," Ann says.
"We wanted a Japanese teahouse, only more casual." So says Jane Greene of the pavilion her husband, Tom, built on an existing deck in Woodinville, WA in just three days for about $500. Electric lanterns garland the roof. A screen of Leyland cypress provides privacy.
To build the pavilion, Tom erected a galvanized steel frame (designed to support a garden canopy) atop the deck, then cloaked the steel tubing with split bamboo and secured it with 12-gauge copper wire. Reed fencing, held in place with copper wire, covers the roof.