In the past year, as social distancing restrictions kept us confined to our homes, we developed a much deeper appreciation for the great outdoors. Our yards suddenly became impromptu vacation spots. Our decks and patios offered a place where we could get away while all our travel plans were put on hold.
Now, luxury outdoor living spaces are the hottest trend in home design. Homeowners everywhere are looking for ways to enhance their little corner of the world with an elaborate fresh-air oasis that’s functional, comfortable and fashionable. A simple set of lawn furniture from the hardware store will no longer suffice!
If you’d like to upgrade your outdoor space before the summer ends, here are some tips to set your project up for success!
Rather than approaching your outdoor space as a completely separate, isolated entity, think of it as an extension of your interior environment. Create a smooth, effortless traffic flow between the areas. When choosing outdoor furniture and accessories, from pillows and blankets to rugs and light fixtures, channel the style you’ve established indoors. Always keep comfort in mind; just because a space is located outdoors doesn’t mean it has to feel rough and rugged.
Don’t forget to consider the view from indoors when planning your outdoor space. Pay attention to the location of windows when deciding where to place furniture and plants. Looking outside should give you as much pleasure as being outside!
Speaking of vistas, when you commit to upgrading your outdoor space, it’s probably a good idea to assess the condition of your home’s exterior. Could it use a refresh, or maybe some livening up? The more time you spend outdoors in your lovely new entertaining area, the more you and guests will be gazing upon the facade of the house. This is a perfect opportunity to repaint, replace old siding or add some stunning exterior shutters for a boost in character and visual intrigue.
Similar to the way you’d lay out an interior floor, plot out your exterior space based on how you expect it to function. Do you plan to entertain a lot of guests? Will you use part of the space as a remote office? Designate specific areas, or “rooms,” for each activity: cooking, dining, lounging, playing, working, etc. Position each area accordingly — for example, you might want your outdoor kitchen to have quick and easy access to the home — and be sure to account for proper electrical wiring where applicable. The goal is to create different “moments” and experiences throughout the space while ensuring that all aspects of the space make practical sense.
When designing an open-air space, privacy and protection are two key factors to keep in mind. How will you shield yourself, guests, furniture and electronics from harsh sun or wet weather? Should you build a pergola, gazebo or another kind of structure? Do you need to install fencing to keep your property separate and distinct from the neighbors’, or plant privacy hedges to give your space a more intimate feel? The answers will depend on your budget, how much space you have to work with, and how you expect to utilize the space.
Why limit yourself to spring and summer, when you can enjoy this amazing outdoor space throughout the year? Think about creating a serene backyard (or front yard) escape for all seasons. What kind of plant life will provide year-round enjoyment, so your space will feel joyful even on colder, darker days? Do you have enough lighting installed throughout the landscape to make the space functional in autumn and winter?
A firepit is the perfect year-round gathering place, but if that’s not feasible, outdoor heat lamps will work wonders in colder weather. For the hot and steamy seasons, consider installing ceiling fans in your outdoor structure or utilizing retractable awnings or shade screens.
Although the era of social distancing is easing its way into the rearview mirror, outdoor living spaces are here to stay. It’s easy to see why! Beautiful outdoor spaces significantly expand our options when it comes to entertaining guests, but they also greatly enhance our enjoyment of our own homes. There’s nothing like fresh air, sunshine and lush greenery to reinvigorate the senses, improve our moods and free our spirits.
You don’t need a huge yard or boundless budget to design an outdoor space you’ll love for years to come. With these ideas and your own creativity and sense of style, the sky’s the limit!