Could a Cool Chess Set Be King in Your Castle?

In case you’ve got a dull backyard spot, a spacious roof deck or even a blah driveway and you enjoy playing chess, consider a supersize set that you could enjoy outdoors. I never learned how to play chess, so that I get very impressed when I visit a set outside; it makes me believe the homeowner is some type of Bobby Fischer–level genius. While I see one of these oversize sets, it tells me the homeowner understands how to have some fun with the hobby, enjoying some fresh air and sunlight throughout the game.

Photo stylists love chess places too; the gorgeous wooden bits add interest with a lot more panache than Chutes and Ladders or the sport of Life. Even if you don’t play chess, take a peek at how beautiful these sets from life size to miniature jazz up a space. Who knows? It can even motivate you to learn how to perform.

Bruce Palmer Interior Design

“The homeowners here already had plenty of room for lounge chairs and tables, and were looking for something special to do on this rooftop deck. “We had an whole rooftop to work with… a blank slate,” explains Bruce Palmer of Bruce Palmer Interior Design.

“I thought that a solid color would be a lot, so I started playing around with a checkerboard pattern,” he says. “As the ideas and pattern developed I thought placing in life-size chess pieces are more interactive, create the rooftop more usable and provide hours of amusement, because the customers love playing chess and enjoyable.” Palmer ordered the teak chess pieces online from Indonesia.

I spied my first outdoor oversize chessboard at my buddy Lucas’ loft building in Atlanta. This courtyard is on the third floor also sits beneath the parking garage. I asked Lucas if anybody ever uses it.

“Folks do play on it frequently, but I believe more than anything, it’s a cute novelty item — people always comment on it,” he says. “The pieces are plastic and have withstood a lot of weather. I don’t understand how to play chess, so I’ve gone there and played checkers.”

The Garden Route Company

This garden includes a little bit of everything. “The client has three kids, and as an element of the overall project goal we needed to create an outdoor play environment that engaged their needs — we also included a tree home, zip line, boccie ball court — which included their interest in chess,” says Rich Radford of The Garden Route Company.

“We created a rock patio that also could be used as a chessboard. The plank was constructed using white and black cut granite rock set on a compacted sand subbase. We used black steel landscape edging as the framework,” says Radford.

Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

This top-floor terrace includes a lot of space to fill, and also the large chessboard and teak bits serve as a sculptural focus.

Harold Leidner Landscape Architects

Exactly the same space varies at night.

Bill Fry Construction – Wm. H. Fry Const. Co..

A checkerboard driveway serves as a chessboard. I suppose the players simply need to be sure no one needs to back from their garage midgame.

Adrienne Chinn Design

Perchance a normal-size plank is much more your speed. Somehow a chessboard never seems to look like clutter, even in the minimum spaces.

Heather Hilliard Design

This vignette shows us why photo stylists love to set up a match for inside shots. Envision the table with no –it would still be a beautiful room, but the photograph wouldn’t be engaging. The chess game enables us envision how the owners utilize this room.

Universal Joint Design Associates

Visbeen Architects

An integrated plank makes it one step easier to get the game set up, and also the inset match board adds a custom look. In the case of this breakfast nook, the designer coordinated the cushion fabrics and color scheme together with the tan and brown plank.

A game of chess is a classic addition to this luxe sport room.

Hammacher Schlemmer & Co..

The Vertical Chess Set – $299.95

Chess has gone perpendicular, though I think it may be somewhat hard to wrap your brain around playing this way initially.

Ballard Designs

Garden Sculpture – $59

If you like the appearance of chess pieces outside but don’t need to commit to the complete board, include a couple of chess piece–motivated sculptures.


Chess Table by Moooi – $1,072

Finally, this white and black dining table from Moooi includes a stylish bravura modern appearance that works whether you use it for chess or something different.

Where would you love to love a game of baseball? Can you give the huge plank a try, or are you more of a croquet/boccie kind? Tell us in the Remarks section.

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