Spend More Time Outside with a Comfortable Outdoor Living Space
One of the hottest trends in home design is creating an outdoor living space. More than just a place to enjoy a meal cooked on the grill, homeowners are creating spaces in their yards that are essentially rooms, with many of the same features and design aspects as indoors. By combining the best parts of indoor living areas with the fresh air and natural light of the outdoors, a well-designed outdoor living space becomes the ideal spot for relaxing and entertaining, and essentially an extension of your home.
So how do you create the ultimate outdoor living area that adds value to your home? Take a few of these tips from the pros.
Create a Cohesive Space
The key to a comfortable and functional outdoor living area is that it needs to be done on purpose. That means creating a defined area with a cohesive feeling. Put the same level of thought into your outdoor space as you would an indoor room, by choosing furniture and accessories that coordinate. The best outdoor living spaces are those that look like they have been thoughtfully designed and aren’t simply a collection of haphazard pieces thrown together.
Ideally, your space should include:
Plenty of seating. A patio table and chairs are a good start but consider conversation areas as well. Outdoor sofas, chaises, and armchairs offer comfortable spots for conversation or just curling up with a good book.
A cooking and eating area. Barbecuing and grilling are a big part of outdoor living, so make it easy to do. Look into top-quality barbecues and grill accessories, but also consider the idea of an outdoor kitchen area. You could build an elaborate outdoor kitchen, but for less money you can invest in a prefabricated setup that includes a cooking surface, sink and mini refrigerator. These setups make everything from a casual weeknight supper to big parties easier and add value to your home.
Shade. In the heat of the summer, a cool and shaded area can be a calming oasis. A retractable awning or sun shade, shade sails or tents, or a pergola with drapes can all create a cool place to hang out. If possible, installing fans is also a good option. Not only does it help keep everyone cool, but fan can also help keep the bugs away.
Lighting. If you can only use your outdoor area during daylight hours, you’re not maximizing the space. Adding lighting lets you stay outdoors long after the sun sets. Consider outdoor chandeliers for your seating area, LED lights for along paths and around the edges of the space, strings of hanging lights, and solar garden lights to make the space welcoming well into the evening.
Fire. Finally, no outdoor space is complete without a fire pit. Add warmth, a place to toast some marshmallows, and a place to sit with a traditional or gas-fueled fire pit.
Accessories. Fluffy pillows, warm throws, candles, and garden plants can all help pull your outdoor space together and create a warm and welcoming environment. Don’t forget to include an indoor/outdoor rug to help define the space.
By including these elements, your outdoor space will be warm and welcoming, and ideal for entertaining and spending time outside.
A Few Pointers
While you want your outdoor space to mimic your indoor areas, because it’s exposed to the elements, you can’t use exactly the same items and materials. Everything you add to your outdoor living area should be designed and rated for outdoor use, especially electrical items. Many lighting fixtures and fans, for example, will be labeled for outdoor use, and clearly state whether they can handle moisture (i.e., humidity) or actually getting wet from rain. Choosing the right fixtures is both a safety and durability issue, so don’t ignore these labels.
Outdoor fabrics are also a must to prevent fading, mildew, or other damage from the elements. When choosing furniture, opt for weather-proof materials like wrought iron, synthetic resins that mimic the look of wicker or rattan, stainless steel, or durable wood like teak or cedar. Keep in mind that even these materials will need regular care to stay looking great and hold up. This means regular cleaning, adding more weatherproofing if necessary, and putting items away during especially harsh weather conditions.
Finally, consider using plants and other natural features as part of your space. Some potted herbs or container plants are both attractive and useful and will add to the space. Tall plants can add to privacy, and in some cases, the right plants can also help deter bugs.
Ultimately, your outdoor space should reflect your unique personality and how you want to enjoy the outdoors. With some planning, though, it can be a relaxing retreat and an extension of your home for most of the year.