Transform the Outside & Extend Your Living Space

As the warmer days approach, so does outdoor living!

Outdoor SeatingWhether it’s an afternoon of relaxation or a weekend with family and friends, enjoying your outdoor space can re-energize the way you experience your home. You can be the designer of your outdoor area and convert it into any space you want! Here are some guidelines for assessing the various options, planning and being creative with your outdoor area; no matter the size. Remember, these choices should enhance your lifestyle, so keep any family and pet friendly considerations top of mind.

Outdoor Living Ideas

The first step to building your dream outdoor living area is to determine what it will be used for. There are countless options and here are a few to help you zero-in on your needs:

  1. Patio living room – create an informal and inviting outdoor space to entertain guests and spend quality time with your family.
  2. Cooking area – consider a barbecue pit with a surrounding dining set-up, a stone or brick oven, or a full-blown kitchen with cooking appliances and amenities.
  3. Alfresco dining – this could be a cozy set-up on your balcony or a full-length dining table to accommodate the whole family or large parties.
  4. Bar and entertaining zone – transform the area around your pool or that otherwise unused grassy section into a defined entertaining area.
  5. Conversation nook – you might want a spot for intimate conversations with an outdoor fireplace or comfy furniture with lots of cushions.
  6. Gaming area – for kids or adults! Sand pits, water tables, a volleyball net, even outdoor bowling. Further enhance these spaces with proper shading and outdoor furniture.
  7. Private retreat –perhaps a quiet reading corner, meditation area or a place to simply unwind.

The Art and Science of Extending Your Living Space

The possibilities for outdoor living are countless, however there are design and structural considerations that may limit your options or even require you to rethink what you had in mind. Reaching out to design and landscaping experts at this early stage will come in handy. Take note of the following:

  1. Assess the area. Be realistic about the purpose and how much space you have. Your available space and layout, for example, may require you to reconsider your plans. But it’s best to know this before spending time and money on it.
  2. Direct sun or shade? Look into the intensity of sunlight at different times of the day. Heat and glare are important considerations often overlooked in home improvement projects. You can strategically place umbrellas to provide enough shade but not take away from the view.
  3. Element-proof your outdoor living space. Aside from the heat, remember to plan for rain, snow and high wind areas. This is important especially for pergolas, canopy covers, lighting and furniture to name a few. Think of the cost, the pros and cons, durability and the practicality of your decision.
  4. Create a seamless flow between your indoors and outdoors. It’s not just about the cohesiveness of the design but also the layout. Your outdoor living space should not obstruct the foot traffic to and from your indoor spaces. Visually, there should be an appealing and uninterrupted flow.

Outdoor DecorDecorating Outdoor Living Spaces

Have FUN with it! Outdoor décor is highly customizable and can make the area very inviting and enjoyable! The concepts are similar with decorating interiors, but you need to consider the compatibility of furniture and décor with the climate and how you interact within the space. Here’s a checklist;

  1. Lighting – pathway solar lighting, tree lights, atmospheric lighting, candle lanterns, tiki torches, string lights, chandeliers – the possibilities to make your outdoor area sparkle are endless! The type and placement of lighting depends on how you will supply power to these fixtures.
  2. A pop of color – color adds character and sets the mood. You might not be able to incorporate paint outdoors as you would indoors, but plants, flowers, furniture and rugs can make up for that! You can source rugs that are waterproof, stain resistant and reversible.
  3. Plants and trees – use plants as accents, borders or even as structural elements. Take advantage of the natural canopy provided by trees or train plants to climb an arbor. Choose foliage to complement your existing landscape design and the furniture you plan to use.
  4. Furniture and shade options –Stackable and foldable chairs are excellent for multipurpose and smaller spaces. Other ideas include hammocks, pouf seats and beanbag chairs. Daybeds are a unique lounging option… and if you have the room for it, why not incorporate a full-length dining table! To complement your furniture, try designing shaded areas with patio umbrellas, parasols, canopy, drapes or shade sails.
  5. Flooring options – the right flooring can change everything, starting with visual and aesthetic appeal. Flooring should be low maintenance, durable and slip resistant.
  6. Partitions and divisions – hedges, lattice screens, vertical gardens and fences can act as walls or partitions and provide privacy.
  7. Outdoor storage – it may not come as a priority at first, but storage is important – especially in spaces that serve multiple uses. You can use trolleys, crates and nifty built-in storage in addition to typical sheds.

Outdoor SeatingEnhance your outdoor ambiance further with a water feature, garden décor, bird bath or outdoor speakers. Again, it comes back to the first step – what do you want to create in this space?

There’s more to a backyard than an empty area where you occasionally open a lawn chair or grill a burger. Remember not to overcrowd it. Like the interior of your home, you want to keep it clutter free, so it’s a welcoming space for you, your family and guests.

The secret to successfully extending your living area is to design a visual experience that will engage your other senses. There is nothing like the sights and sounds of the outdoors blending together to create a happy space!