For most of us Spring is in full bloom. Which means many of us are daydreaming of our outdoor spaces right now! I think we are all tired of staring at our walls inside, right? I believe that outdoor living especially now, in these unprecedented times is important. Did you know that spending time outside can improve your physical and mental well-being? Spending time in nature can help you live a happier life, too. Seems like a good reason to me to get outside. So how do we juggle the indoor demands with getting outside?
It all starts with treating your outdoor space like an extension of the indoors, or another room, big or small. It’s the perfect opportunity to add more living space! I’ll walk you through 5 easy steps to creating that beautiful outdoor space, so you can stop dreaming and start living…outdoors.
I hope you get some great ideas to bring spring and summer outdoor enjoyment to your home.
Step 1: Imagine How You Would Love to Use the Space
The first step in creating any space indoor or outdoor is asking yourself how you want to use the space. Do you want a place to drink your morning coffee and listen to the birds? Will it be a place for family gatherings or future entertaining? Do you want to take you WFH outside? Think this step through carefully, and plan for any future additions to the space. You don’t want to have to go back and re-do any of your hard work.
*This part does take some careful planning and attention to details but so worth it to take the time to plan.
The function of your space will influence the overall design and layout. When it comes to furniture setup, having multiple areas to sit is best. Divide your space into designated areas, no matter the size!
Step 2: Plan to Layer the Space from the Ground Up
Outdoor spaces aren’t really all that different from indoor ones. It’s all about layering from the ground up (literally!).
1. You need a “floor”. A floor is an essential feature of any room. It should feel solid, level, and secure underfoot. This can be a wide range of materials from inexpensive pea gravel, stone or brick pavers, concrete or decking materials. Consider your home’s architectural style and interior design when you’re choosing materials for your hardscaping/landscaping. You want all your spaces to feel cohesive. The end result will be much more visually appealing and connected to one another.
2. You need “walls”. Indoor rooms have walls that define each space. You can create a similar sense in your outdoor space with what we call visual boundaries. You don’t literally need walls here, unless you want them or already have them. If you have the space, map out roughly the size of your indoor living room. This is typically big enough for your family but small enough to feel intimate and inviting.
To define your outdoor boundaries use vertical elements like screens, railing, tall potted plants, hedges or a water feature.
3. Think Lighting -Just like the indoors, you need to think about lighting. Sure the daylight is great but what about when you want to hang out in the evening? Unless, you like sitting in complete darkness… in that case that’s cool. Skip this step.
Luckily, outdoor lighting has never been easier. There are so many great solar light options on the market these days. From lamp posts to walk way lights to pot lights you can now get all your lighting needs taken care of courtesy of the sun!
4. You need Furniture. Choose furnishings that fits the space to create a sense of flow and expansiveness. No matter what furniture you are selecting, make sure it is comfortable. It doesn’t matter how much time, effort and expense you put into your outdoor furniture if it is uncomfortable.
5. You need Accessories. This is the designers “trick up their sleeves.” This step really elevates and finishes off your space. This is the opportunity to make it uniquely you!
Don’t be afraid to add stylish and traditional indoor accents to your outdoor living space. Rugs, throw pillows for furniture, candles and fresh cut flowers will finish off your space beautifully. Just make sure they’re rated for outdoor use if exposed to the elements.
If your layout and/ or framework can accommodate drapes, they can add an attractive, cozy cabana vibe. Choose indoor-outdoor fabrics in cotton/poly blends that dry quickly and resist mildew.
That Staycation is looking pretty good!!
Step 3: Considering Outdoor Furniture
IMHO Sturdy outdoor furniture never goes out of style. So, if you can buy good quality furniture, do it! Not only are you saving yourself money in the long run, but you are also saving tons of items from going into our already overflowing landfills. I preach this to all my clients about indoor furniture as well.
Now, I admit I’ve had to learn the hard way in my hot climate here in NC. What worked for our life in the PNW would not work here in HOT NC weather. So, think/ research carefully about your climate and what will and will not work in your area of the country.
Here are some outdoor frame material options. (There are many more…these are just some of my suggestions for durability and life span of the product)
– Wrought Iron: It is one of the most durable and longest lasting type of outdoor furniture available. It has a very heavy frame. Great for areas you will not be moving it around a lot.
– Polypropylene: It is virtually impenetrable. Extraordinarily strong and durable, it’s immune to the effects of water. Moisture simply can’t permeate its dense material, and because it’s slick, mildew and rot can’t get a grip. Great for coastal areas.
– Rattan Wicker: Resin wicker is a great alternative to natural wicker, as natural wicker can be very vulnerable to the elements. Rattan wicker is made of braided synthetic materials, there’s no place for water to settle so mold and mildew can’t settle in.
– Aluminum: Aluminum metals are strong, unyielding, and seemingly invincible, champion of rain-enduring metals is humble aluminum. aluminum can’t rust because it has no iron in its composition. aluminum is scientifically proven to be an excellent choice for rain.
– Stainless Steel: Stainless steel offers a modern style to any outdoor space. Proven as a superior outdoor material, it has found its way into outdoor furniture with amazing results. With its resistance to corrosion and oxidation, it makes an excellent choice.
-Polystone: It doesn’t absorb water, it’s a great choice for rainy climates. Because it’s a cemented mix of powdered stone and polyurethane resin, polystone can be moulded and sanded into any shape.
-Polyethylene: Exceptionally durable hard plastic that has infinite recyclability. Made from recycled plastic materials.
You can purchase by clicking on the links of each image, and if you do, I will make a tiny percentage of the price, which helps me pay for running this blog – and I’m thanking you in advance if you do!
Step 4: Embrace Outdoor Fabrics for Comfort
The best way to approach outdoor fabrics is to think of them like indoor fabrics. All fabrics are created for a purpose, so they are made accordingly and used for weather extremes.
I highly recommend: 100% Solution dyed acrylic for outdoor applications: When considering long-lasting color, solution-dyed acrylics are like a carrot, meaning the color is the same for every layer. This weather-resistant upholstery lasts longer than traditional fabrics. I highly recommend using for applications that are constantly exposed to the elements, like seat cushions, awnings and umbrellas. The days of scratchy stiff outdoor fabrics are long gone. There are a number of soft textures on the market today.
*Designer tip- If you’re on a budget. Try an inexpensive aluminum frame and upgrade your cushions with a solution dyed acrylic like Sunbrella. This will take your furniture to the next level and last a lot longer in the elements.
Step 5: Add Some Beautiful Final Touches
A final functional consideration you might make for your outdoor living area is a garden. Growing vegetables, fruits and herbs can be fun and rewarding. The best way to make sure your food is fresh and sustainable? Grow it yourself! You can easily add gardens to small containers.
Some other fun final touches to consider are a bar carts, outdoor statues, outdoor rugs (under furniture rule still applies), solar lighting and find some color planters that really show your personality!
There are lots of elements that can go into making a great outdoor space really GREAT. So take a moment to organize yourself before you start. While there is truly no right or wrong way to design your perfect sanctuary, a little editing and planning can go a long way to create a comfortable, inviting, beautiful oasis!
Be sure to follow along with me for the next 8 weeks, starting May 7th as I make over 2 areas (hopefully) at my house. This post might be a little hint on one! 🙂
MORE outdoor living inspiration…
I’m so honored and excited to have been invited to participate in a blog hop showcasing shoppable outdoor living spaces. Now I’d like to invite you to click the links below to see my interior design friends beautiful blog posts on all things outdoor living below:
Laura Muller – Four Point Design Build
Linda Holt – Linda Holt Creative
Jeanne Chung – Cozy, Stylish, Chic
Carla Aston – Carla Aston Designed
Ready for an outdoor space that spoils you silly? Contact us and we’d be delighted to help!
As always, thanks for reading & subscribing to my blog – I appreciate each of you.