Design Trends, Ideas + Inspiration

Modern Rooftops: Rooms with a View

Life in the big city is booming. However, while cities offer plenty of recreational opportunities like dining, museums and live music, living quarters are becoming more expensive and more compact as the population continues to swell. So what do you do if you want to stay home and relax but your apartment is too cramped? Well, in many cities, people are taking to the rooftops.

Private and communal rooftop gardens, living rooms, dining rooms and even swimming pools are taking urban dwellers by storm. When the only way to go is up, it doesn’t mean you have to settle for uncomfortable, industrial décor. Today’s modern outdoor furniture will let you turn your rooftop into a hip, modern oasis you’ll never want to leave.

Photography by Doyle McCullar. Image via

One of the best things about rooftop living spaces, no matter their purpose or design, is the potential for stellar views. Whether you’re gazing out over the city lights or a nearby lake or bay, there’s nothing better than feeling like you’re on top of the world.

Rooftop Living Room

Project by Corea Sotropa Interior Design. Image via

A popular style for rooftop living is essentially creating a living room outdoors. Comfy couches, relaxing lounge chairs and chaise lounges are the key elements to creating this rooftop space. Add-in some occasional tables, plants and colorful throw pillows, and you’re ready to go. If you have the space and you’re feeling extravagant, you could also add an umbrella or pergola for shade and a hot tub, fireplace or firepit to make the area enjoyable during the cooler months as well. Whether the space is small and cozy or open and spacious, with the right furniture and accents you’ll never want to go back inside.

Rooftop Dining Room

Project by Lauren Ranes. Image via

If your idea of a good time is enjoying a romantic meal for two or a large dinner party with friends, why not take it out on the roof? For those who love to cook and entertain, you can set up a rooftop kitchen complete with a sink, grill and fridge. Combine that with a nice dining table and you’re in for a wonderful evening. However, even if your space is too small to include a kitchen, a well-proportioned table that fits your space is all you really need to enjoy a lovely meal out on the roof.

Living and Dining

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If you’re lucky enough to have a large space, you can break it out into zones for multiple uses. Create a designated area for dining and lounging, and voila! The ultimate open floor plan!

Rooftop Bar

Project by frankovitchjm. Image via

Another way to enjoy a rooftop space is to set up a bar area. There’s nothing more pleasant than enjoying a carefully crafted cocktail while taking in the city views. All you need is a convenient station for mixing the drinks, some places to sit and you’re ready to go. Rooftop bars can be as simple as a tall table where you set up everything you need, or an extravagant set that includes a wine fridge and ice maker. Don’t forget some outdoor-friendly cocktail glasses while you’re at it.

Rooftop Pools and Hot Tubs

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What could be better than a cool dip in the pool on a hot day? Why, enjoying that dip with a rooftop view of course! From small lap pools to larger pools located on the rooftops of apartment buildings, nothing beats being able to take a swim whenever your heart desires. A hot tub is another great option and would encourage you to keep using your rooftop space when the weather starts to cool. Either way, make sure to add plenty of chaise lounge chairs and waterproof cushions so you can take a break in comfort and style.

Rooftop Garden

Project by Prassas Landscape Studio LLC. Image via

If you love all the culture and cuisine the city has to offer but want to be surrounded by nature, why not turn your rooftop into a garden? Whether you want to grow your own food or just enjoy some greenery, the modern roof offers a lot of options. Planter boxes will allow you to create designated areas for your plants. Individual pots in all shapes and sizes can be moved around and relocated to take advantage of the light throughout the year and are a great way to add character and depth to the design. Don’t forget comfy seating, so you can sit back and enjoy the view.

Green Roof

Project by Shuster Design Associates. Image via

Green roofs are a great option if you have can have one. They reduce heat because they act as a natural insulator, bring more plants and vegetation into the city and absorb storm water. However, green roofs do require very specific structural accommodations due to the added weight and need to create proper drainage. So you can’t just throw down some dirt, add some plants and call it done. There are two types of green roofs: intensive and extensive. Intensive roofs allow you to use them as a living space, while extensive green roofs are purely for environmental advantages and not meant to be used as a living space.

No matter how you decide to design your rooftop, remember to always select outdoor friendly fabrics and materials, and follow their care instructions. And for an added touch of luxury, an outdoor firepit or fireplace, hot tub or pool can’t be beat.

Nicole Tatem

Nicole Tatem

Nicole is the Sr. Site Merchandiser for Accessories, Kids, and Textiles at YLiving. She is obsessed with great design in all forms with a special love for jewelry, wine bottle labels, and tableware. When she’s not exploring the many museums and art galleries of the Bay Area, Nicole spends time looking for and visiting obscure and unusual destinations (locally and abroad) while practicing her photography skills.

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