From the patio to the pool deck, outdoor living has evolved and now offers great opportunities to extend and improve your living area. What was once dominated by swing sets and plastic furniture now can be transformed into a functional, elegant space that serves as an extension of your lifestyle. Homeowners are often amazed at the powerful ways that a well-designed outdoor space can radically improve the enjoyment of their home. It can provide benefits such as:
- Alternative spaces to entertain guests. With warmer weather comes grilling season which ushers in less formality with food and environment. Let’s face it, alfresco dining makes everything better: the corn tastes sweeter, the air feels fresher, and there’s a carefree vibe among your family and friends.
- It’s a much needed, well deserved oasis. Imagine dozing off on a chaise lounge at poolside, curling up on your patio loveseat with a book and a glass of lemonade, or meditating around a Koi pond.
- It offers a technology-free zone for families. Unplugging from every device and engaging in outdoor play helps to reconnect kids and adults. Install a bocce ball court to encourage team sport for the young and young at heart.
- It boosts your Vitamin D intake. Research shows that at least 77 % of Americans are deficient in what’s known as the “sunshine vitamin” due to a lack of ultraviolet rays. Thanks to comfortable seating in a lounge area, you can soak in your view as you take in your recommended daily allowance of vitamin D.
With all these great benefits, you might be tempted to jump right in and start picking out furniture, but it’s important to remember that a well designed space requires much more thought and planning. If you want to create a truly exceptional environment that your whole family can enjoy from spring through fall, you will need to start with a design.
Five Essential Elements to Consider When Designing for Outdoor Living
Designing a fabulous and functional outdoor living space begins with extensive examination of your lifestyle needs. From this starting point, there are five essential elements that need to be considered:
- Flow. Use concrete and brick pavers or natural stones to define walkways and patios and convey an old world or a modern aesthetic. Create organic boundaries and edges with plants, flowers and shrubs to evoke a natural oasis. Map zones for eating, relaxing and playing with artful furniture arrangement.
- Warmth. When people congregate, invite luxury through candles or a carefully positioned chandelier. Consider adding a fire pit for the chilly nights or simply for enjoying cozy nights by the campfire. Rain doesn’t have to deter outdoor living either —thanks to screened-in porches, retractable canopies or large umbrellas.
- Focal Point. Just as your living room features that one piece to unify the space, the same concept works for patios and decks. For the foodie with a penchant for entertaining, draw in your guests with an outdoor kitchen where you can be the life of the party. Install a pool or add a fountain to carve out your own sanctuary.
- Texture. Enliven the space with interest by adding rich colors, layering in weather-resistant rugs and upholstery, and using hardscape materials for retaining walls and steps. Tabletop accessories, colorful plant containers and patterned pillows communicate personal style.
- Comfort. Long gone are the days of uncomfortable metal chairs or dated picnic benches. Today’s manufacturers are producing stylish yet comfortable dining and lounge furniture for any gathering. Thanks to dining chairs and tables treated with rust-resistant finishes, teak-carved bar stools and upholstery tough enough to withstand rain and defy mold and mildew, sitting pretty has never been easier.
With the many options available today, the design possibilities are almost limitless. Don’t let these considerations overwhelm you. It’s exciting to envision a special outdoor living space for your home and the best way to ensure your space is exceptional is to start with a solid design from a professional. A designer that specializes in outdoor living will save you time and help you avoid common and potentially costly mistakes as well as bring out opportunities that many homeowners might miss. A fresh eye on a familiar space can also offer a design angle that will bring out a feature or element that will completely change the way the space is used.
What more can be done with your space? Is this the year that you start enjoying the outdoor lifestyle?