The idea of an outdoor living space has evolved from the humble patio of yesteryear—think simple concrete pads with aluminum camp chairs and ice chests surrounding a folding charcoal pit—to today’s elaborate and expansive areas that contain cooking, dining and lounging areas alongside a pool or other water features. As with other types of design planning, the options for different sizes and budgets are endless. It’s just a matter of finding the right inspiration. Here are a few ideas to get you started on a reboot of your existing area or a new project.
To get the most out of your outdoor space, make sure there’s easy access from your inside space. When deciding on the location for your outdoor room, consider how you want to use it and pick an area that’s heavily trafficked, such as off the living room or master bedroom. You can continue to control the traffic flow outside in many ways including creating walkways by using landscaping and hardscaping to create borders. The use of curved paths is popular and can encourage exploration in a garden that leads to a quiet sitting spot or opens up to an inviting entertainment area.
Well-designed rooms are typically built around one element—a sofa, water feature or table—which provides a focal point; the rest of the furnishings and accents support that central piece which orients the view and becomes a gathering point. Outdoor fireplaces can create a strong focal point, draw people to them and provide warmth for those chilly winter evenings. These areas can simply consist of a portable fire pit, two lounge chairs and a charming view, or an expertly fashioned, massive wall of masonry. High-end trends include incorporating artistic elements, promoting them to “fire features” rather than traditional firepits. These usually provide seating areas and a backdrop for TVs. Again—your space, budget, needs and taste dictate your choices.
After choosing a focal point, zone your space. Well-planned furniture arrangement helps to facilitate a variety of uses in one outdoor living space. For example, in a smaller space, a bench and dining table can be placed cozily in a corner; for medium spaces, different flooring textures or rugs can define dining and relaxing areas. Today’s upscale outdoor spaces feature entire kitchens with weather resistant, stainless steel appliances. A trending design aesthetic is to put stainless steel components in stone or brick creating a pleasing contrast of rustic and modern elements, and serving as an anchor for the appliances while offering an outdoor vibe. Trendy outdoor cooking areas demand outdoor dining spaces rivaling their indoor counterparts complete with full tables, bar areas and kitchen islands.
Stylish accents and traditional indoor furnishings finish today’s outdoor rooms. Colorful rugs and throw pillows pop against classic, muted stone hues and adorn plush seating, with synthetic wicker being the choice for furniture durability. Lightweight or rolling plant pots also add color and texture to outdoor living spaces and can define borders of the space with a rotating palette of seasonal offerings. Hardscaped outdoor designs, especially those featuring concrete or stone pool lounging areas benefit from landscaping that adds softness. Shrubs and vined trellises can offer privacy from neighbors, the addition of garden areas or fruit trees can add charm, and carefully chosen plants can attract wildlife. Use landscaping as the finishing and unifying elements that reflect your unique personality and make this special space your own.