4 THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DESIGNING YOUR OUTDOOR SPACE
Summer is here and it’s that time of the year when your outdoor space starts getting extra love! BBQs, parties, a relaxed evening spent with family… yes your outdoor space is going to be the place for all the fun memories. And of course, to make great memories, you need a functional and stylish space and your outdoor is no exception.
I’m sure that when most of us think about styling and decor, we think about indoors, but as an extension, your outdoor space also needs to be functional, stylish and comfortable! It’s time to start thinking about your outdoor space as an extension of your indoors. And in this blog, I am going to cover 4 important items you need to keep in mind to liven up your outdoor space. Read on and let’s get that outdoor transformation going!
Let me list down the 4 important aspects that will help you ace your outdoor space and I’ll talk about the significance of each one:
- IDENTIFY PURPOSE & CREATE THE LAYOUT
- THOUGHTFUL SELECTION OF MATERIALS
- ADDING A SPLASH OF ACCESSORIES & DECOR
- GOING GREEN
- IDENTIFY PURPOSE & CREATE THE LAYOUT:
(A) Identify your purpose: Do you love doing BBQs? Do you need a kid friendly or pet friendly outdoor space? Or do you like to entertain guests over the weekends in your outdoors? Or maybe you are looking to create a relaxing oasis for you and your family? It all starts from these questions… that is… to identify the purpose for your outdoor space. Identifying the purpose is winning half the battle! Everything that you do from now on is going to be built around this! So spend some time evaluating how you plan to best utilize your outdoor space. With the purpose of the space identified, we move to our next step… Creating the layout keeping keeping in mind flow and arrangement.
(B) Creating the layout (focusing on flow & arrangement):
Like I mentioned earlier (and this is the most important part!) — treat outdoor space planning as you would for any indoor space.
Are you thinking of having a seating and/or dining area? Or do you want to add more than one areas in your outdoor space? Start from evaluating some of these questions at the same time considering how big is your outdoor space and start to build your layout from there.
For multiple areas, create zones to mark out different spaces, say for seating, dining, a nook to enjoy coffee by yourself, kids play area, etc.
Creating distinctive spaces for each purpose will help you optimally use your outdoor space and gives you a collected and complete feel.
Seating is a given in any outdoor space and your focus should be on adding comfortable and optimal seating. A few good examples of seating arrangements can be in the form of a “L-zone”, “C-Zone” or “Parallel seating”. To get the most out of your seating arrangement, keep these recommendations handy:
- Your seating arrangement should be close enough for talking. Too close and you might be invading personal space, too far and it may get tough to have a conversation in normal voice.
- Keep the pathways in your seating area open. This will allow for easy movement and flow.
- Refrain from having smaller items blocking your seating area — this again helps avoid bumping and shifting things around when you want to walk in and out of this area
When designing your outdoor space, don’t forget to keep nature’s forces in mind as well! To name a couple — sunlight and wind. Why? You ask? Depending on the orientation of your outdoor space, you may need to consider adding umbrellas, pergolas or awnings to keep the sunshine at bay in warm weather or need to consider windbreakers if your outdoor space has wind drafts during colder weather.
Once you have zero’ed in on your layout, the next crucial aspect that you need to consider is material selection.
2. THOUGHTFUL SELECTION OF MATERIALS:
I can’t stress this more, “Your material selection can make or break your outdoor design”. Anything you install in your outdoor space will have to battle the forces of nature all year long and you want your material selection last the test of time (and weather!). Three of the most important ones are flooring, furniture and fabrics.
(A) Outdoor Flooring: If you’re going to add outdoor furniture (and I’m sure you do!), you’ll want to put in some form of hardscaping to give a solid base for the furniture to rest on. Think beyond the usual options as now you have a variety of flooring options to choose from. For example, if you have hardwood indoors you can find porcelain/ceramic tiles that provides the look of wood and the durability of tile to truly create a cohesive indoor-outdoor feel. Or you can turn up the style factor by installing mosaic Spanish tiles in your outdoors. Stone is yet another great option to elevate your space. Composite wood decking is also another sleek, sustainable and eco-friendly option that gives you the wood decking look with a much durable and lasting material.
For kids play area, consider using rubber playground flooring. If you have kids playing and jumping, regardless of equipment, rubber playground flooring is a safe option with lots of colors to choose from.
You can complement the hardscape with grass lawn (or artificial turf) to balance out as it adds softness. Artificial turf is a great low maintenance, kid and pet friendly option and it’s super sustainable too! Use a mix of soft and hardscaping for your outdoor flooring keeping in mind the weather in your region and of course the very first point — the purpose of your outdoor space!
(B) Furniture: We all love comfy furniture in the outdoors to lounge in or spend the evening relaxing so you want to make the best out of what you incorporate. Your furniture selection will also, more importantly, vary and depend based on the weather in your region. Good thing is, we have a lot of durable furniture material options to choose from now… from FSC certified wood, to color-coated metal, nylon fabric (think bungee cord) wrapped around a weatherproof wood frame, and the list goes on. Key point is to focus your furniture material selection on all-weather materials that lasts for years. With the variety of options that are available, I’m sure you will have no difficulty finding the furniture that suits your style in a material of your choice.
Here are some more insights into the various furniture materials available today and their style significance:
Sustainable Wood: A failsafe choice, a sustainable wood based furniture gives you a natural grain and tone.
Rustproof Aluminum: Sleek and stylish, this is a great choice if you plan to go for a contemporary look.
Woven Wicker: A modern take on a classic, wicker furniture can stand the test of time along with a great style factor.
Concrete: Cool, industrial and with an ability to withstand any weather conditions, concrete is also one of the popular choices (think building a seating space using concrete!).
(C) Fabrics: With great looking durable furniture, you need an awesome fabric selection! Now this one is important because you don’t want the rain, sunshine or food/drink spills ruin your furniture. There are several outdoor-friendly materials that are available today that are fade resistant, spill resistant and water-proof. And to top it off, you have a wide selection of colors and patterns/prints to choose from to match your style. Fabrics from Sunbrella, as an example, are a popular choice for outdoors. Additionally, having removable cushion covers for your seating is an added advantage for easy care as you can remove and wash them separately.
While working on selecting the fabrics, consider investing in furniture covers as well to protect your furniture when not in use. These can help avoid wear and tear and extend the life of your furniture.
3. ADD A SPLASH OF ACCESSORIES & DECOR:
Any outdoor space is incomplete unless you add a bit of personality to it by adding accessories and decor. And we want to do this wisely to get create the a great look as well as add functionality. Lets break it down into two aspects:
(A) Functionality & Versatility
When adding accessories and furniture, think about how you can incorporate items that are functional as well as versatile. Let’s look at a few of these and how they add utility as well as become an integral part of your outdoor styling.
Bar Carts – Perfect for keeping the drinks in close reach, bar carts are versatile yet add a unique decor element to your outdoor space. Their small size makes them perfect for just about any size outdoor area. And being a cart, they’re easy to move around as and when needed.
Storage Bench – Talking about versatility, storage bench are a great choice for seating as they also double up as storage. You can stow away extra pillows and throws, store a few outdoor games, etc. It’s the best example of versatility — seating and storage!
Modular Outdoor Kitchen – Modular outdoor kitchen are constructed with standardized units or dimensions. Since this type of outdoor kitchen is pre-fabricated, meaning you don’t have to hire contractors to create a permanent structure, this makes modular options practical and budget-friendly. A straight modular kitchen is advised for a small setup while an L-Shaped or U-Shaped is advised for a big setup.
Coffee Table – Coffee table help you tie your seating space together. Much like your indoor living room, these tables offer a place to keep food and drinks or a place to put your feet up. Think about the layout of your seating to pick the best shape for your coffee table. Another unique usage would be to put together several tables to create one large surface as you can split them up for added end tables when you have more guests.
Fire Pit – Fire pits are an excellent choice when it comes to outdoor accessorizing and many a times, they are a must have! As with outdoor furniture, you have plenty of options for fire pits to choose from. You can either run a gas line to setup a fixed fire-pit or pick from one of the options that uses a propane tank (giving you some form of portability). Bonus tip: Consider a fire-pit with some space around it to serve the dual purpose of a fire-pit + coffee table.
Side Tables – Most of us are probably more used to seeing side tables as part of indoor spaces, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. In fact, there are many occasions in which a side table could be added in a very practical and useful way to you outdoor space. Use them to hold some decor pieces or small pots/planters. Or use them as an additional surface area to put down your drinks and food or an area to place your boardgames when playing. Using multiple accent tables is especially handy for outdoor entertaining, which tends to be less formal and more fluid.
(B) Accessorizing Wisely
There are literally tons of ways to accessorize your outdoors! To give your outdoors a unique touch of personality, bring in some of these accessories and see how it instantly uplifts the space. Lets talk about a few of them here:
All Weather Pillows: Introduce color and create excitement with outdoor pillows. Stunning outdoor pillows, which can withstand the elements, food and pets for years at a time, are available in a variety of patterns and colors. You can mix and match them and create a one-of-a-kind look.
Rugs: An area rug not only defines a conversation area in your outdoor space, but also adds an extra layer of warmth and style that will help make it feel more comfortable. Consider purchasing an all weather rug that will stand the test of time.
Umbrellas: Perfect for adding some shade in sunny weather, umbrellas are a useful accessory in any outdoor space. Depending on your layout, you can go with a center mount or a side mount umbrella. They also help anchor a space as their reach can clearly define a specific area on large patios.
Water Fountain: Listening to the trickling sound of water has to be one of the most relaxing feelings that you can experience. And you can definitely bring in this effect by building your very own water fountain/feature with seating around it or installing a plug-in water fountain. They help give off a calming sound and relaxing ambience.
Outdoor Lights/String Lights: The right lighting can make all the difference. Choose lighting for your outdoor area with the same attention to detail. Consider all-weather LED string lights that you can hang overhead to create a cozy and soft lighting effect. Enhance the feel by creating mood lighting using outdoor lamps or solar lights. Mark your pathways using path lighting or use spotlights to highlight different areas in and around your space.
Lanterns/Candle Holders: Another great option for mood lighting is adding lanterns or candle holders around your seating areas in the outdoors. They give off a relaxing vibe and also create charm by infusing a soft and serene feel.
Trays, Vases & small planters: Don’t forget the smaller things that can help add a homier feeling to your outdoor living spaces. Accessories like trays, vases and small platers can add a curated and eclectic feel to your space. Trays can hold some essentials on the coffee table and vases and small planters will enhance the styling of the space. Bonus Tip: To add that extra element of zen living, consider adding a wind chime.
Sculptures: Adding a piece of art to your outdoor could provide a distinctive focal point and finishing touch to a cohesive and beautifully designed outdoor space, whether it is a subtle enhancement or a dramatic showpiece. With sculpture, the possibilities are endless in terms of size, style, cost and material with choices in concrete, wood, stone, marble, stainless steel and other forms.
4. GO GREEN:
No outdoor is complete without greenery. I highly recommend adding greenery as the natural green color is soothing to the eye. There are a variety of ways you can add green in your outdoor space. Here a some options to think about:
Add a few small or large planters around your seating and/or dining and kitchen area. Planters are an excellent accessory to add as it brings in layers and texture to your space.
If you are looking to add plants, consider adding shrubs and succulents as they look great and are low maintenance. Another neat idea would be to add some box planters with seasonal vegetables and flowers. Flowers will add natural color in your space and you’ll get to harvest seasonal vegetables/fruits/herbs right from your backyard.
For your fence surrounding your outdoor space, line up plants that are vertically tall. They will provide you with privacy without obstructing the view. I would say avoid bushy plants around the fence as an added space saving measure.
To sum it up… Considering and keeping in mind these 4 aspects along with a little bit of creativity, you are now ready to ace your outdoor space to perfection!
Photo Credits: West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Pottery Barn