We all know that spending time outdoors has the power to turn stormy moods sunny, and now is the perfect time to get outside and enjoy your outdoor space. Whether you have a spacious backyard, a charming balcony or something in between, it’s crucial to make the most of your outdoor space. Plus, adding a comfortable outdoor entertaining space can increase your home’s value should you decide to sell it. It’s truly a win-win.
But building a well-designed outdoor living space from scratch can feel like a daunting task. From choosing the right outdoor lounge furniture to planting attractive perennials, you’ve got to strategize from the very beginning. This guide will help you figure out where to start.
#1 Create a Visualization or Mockup — One of the best ways to kick off your outdoor redesign is to visualize it with a drawing or use a mockup app. Start by taking accurate measurements of the space and sketching it out on paper, making note of any architectural features, stairs, physical boundaries and landscaped areas you want to keep. You don’t have to get too high-tech with this, since there are tons of easy-to-use apps out there, just make sure you come away with an accurate representation of your plan. This will help you when talking to contractors and making decisions.
#2 Work With What You’ve Have — When looking at your existing space, try to think of your redesign in a way that complements what’s already there. For example, if your yard is partially landscaped, work with the existing landscaping and spruce it up or add details to it. Embrace the large, old trees that provide shade and oxygen, even if they may require you to cut some square footage from the patio or deck. Better yet, build a patio around healthy trees so they can continue to grow.
#3 Break Up Spaces to Create Rooms — Who says rooms are only for the indoors? You can break up large, overwhelming outdoor areas by creating sections that feel more cozy, private and welcoming. Do this by designating “zones” with area rugs, building trellis walls or planting privacy shrubs to help delineate certain areas. It’s also a great idea to separate your lounge or fire space from your dining space, just like you do inside the house.
#4 Create a Décor Style — Just like your indoor space, you want to make sure the furniture, accents and finishes you choose outside reflect your personal sense of style and suit the environment. Before you begin, determine if you want your space to lean traditional or modern, formal or casual, bohemian or luxe. You can infuse pops of your personality with throw pillows, decorative accents and even artwork that plays to your desired décor scheme. Take cues from the landscaping and architectural style of your home when choosing pieces.
#5 Create at Least One Covered Area — You’ll get the most out of your outdoor space throughout the year if you have at least one covered area that’s safe from harsh sun and the occasional summer downpour. A retractable awning, a pergola or even small patio umbrellas placed throughout the space will help a ton. A shaded area is also a great place to install an all-weather cabinet, chest or small shed to store your cushions, outdoor entertaining accessories and anything else you want to protect from sun, rain, snow, wind and critters.
#6 Think Through Your Grilling Space — If you love to grill or smoke for a crowd, the design and layout of your grilling area is critical to hosting parties and get-togethers. Make sure your grilling area has all the bells and whistles you need to prep, cook and serve, including a built-in prep space. You don’t have to get too fancy with this if you don’t want to. A simple stone ledge or even an outdoor-friendly folding table will work. Make sure to set up your grill and prep areas somewhere open to prevent trapping smoke and heat in your space.
#7 Choose Plants Carefully — When designing your outdoor living space, you’re likely going to have to make some decisions about trees, flowers and shrubs. When perusing the garden center, opt for low-maintenance plantings that don’t require a ton of watering or pruning. Choose plants according to the goals of your space. You may want an area with shade or privacy, in which case you should install denser shrubs or evergreens, such as arborvitae. You can also choose plants that deter certain critters or bugs.
#8 Don’t Overlook the Lighting — Lighting is one of the elements that many homeowners overlook when designing outdoor living areas. But the reality is that your space won’t get as much use if it’s dark and creepy at night. What’s more, unlit pathways and stairs can be dangerous for your family and guests. Be sure to incorporate lighting or install electrical work if necessary. Create ambient lighting with bistro string lights, lanterns or outdoor wall fixtures. You can also mark and illuminate walkways with solar-powered path lights, which are affordable and easy to install.
When the weather is mild, there’s nothing better than spending time soaking up sunshine and fresh air. But outdoor enjoyment isn’t all that enjoyable if you don’t have a nice place to kick your feet up. Use the above tips to help you curate an al fresco entertainment and relaxation zone that helps you sink into a state of serenity and soak up the fresh air with friends. These tips will also help you get a higher price when you go sell your home down the road.