Is your backyard or patio going unused? Take advantage of this valuable unused area and design a space to host casual get-togethers with these six tips for creating a relaxing outdoor living area.
Take a realistic look at the space available to you and ask yourself how your family can best use that area. While installing a water feature sounds lovely, if you have kids or pets, it’s probably not practical.
Do you enjoy cooking outdoors? Do you envision cosy evenings under the stars or large, boisterous parties? What type of entertaining do you want to do?Make a list of must-haves for your outdoor living area before you get to work.
Any living area needs plenty of seating. A table and chairs or a bar and matching bar stools offer space to gather with friends and family for meals or drinks. Sofas and armchairs encourage lounging, as do hammocks and swing. Use weather-resistant cushions for added comfort. For parties, create groups of chairs, benches or ottomans to encourage conversation. If space is at a premium, use wide-rimmed planters or sturdy storage chests and coffee tables that can double as extra seating in a pinch.
Give your outdoor space some evening ambiance by adding the right amount of light. Turn off harsh spotlights for gatherings; rely instead on pathway lights, hanging lanterns, fire pits or candles. Use strategically placed lights to call attention to water features or decorative plants, and add extra lighting, such as patio-umbrella lights, to dining areas.
Most areas of your outdoor living space will require shade during the day, whether it’s provided by a covered-porch roof, an awning or an umbrella. Try using tall potted plants to block some sun, or add an arched trellis covered with vines. For larger spaces, consider installing a beautiful pergola or building one from scratch.
If you want to use your outdoor living space most of the year, plan for some climate control. In hot summer months, keep the space cooler with fans and water features. A small plunge pool is a great place to relax with frozen drinks. In cooler weather, an outdoor fireplace or fire pit can really heat things up. Keep a chest of blankets on hand for cosy outdoor evenings, or soak in a steaming hot tub. Large space heaters are another option, and are especially useful in outdoor dining areas.
Don’t forget to accessorise your outdoor living space as you would any other room in your home. Add interest with colourful outdoor rugs or patterned throw pillows. Create container gardens showcasing ornamental grasses or flowers. Hang wall art or add sculptures to the space, or use beautiful glass bowls or jars to showcase stone and seashell collections. Bring decorative candleholders, trays and vases into the space as well.
Creating an outdoor living area is like building an addition to your home without the hassle of major construction. With some careful planning, you’ll have a beautiful space in which to relax and entertain guests while enjoying the outdoors.