One of the hottest trends in interior design isn't even interior — it's outdoors. Patio living has taken off throughout the nation as a way to expand your living space while enjoying fresh air and sunsets.
But where do you start? Designers recommend thinking about your own activities in regard to your individual lifestyle. A young family will have a much different outdoor living space than a retired couple. It's possible to customize your backyard with centerpieces, like an outdoor table with grill, to create areas that are perfect for how you live your life every day.
At the same time, think about the flow of traffic through your home into your patio and yard. Are there numerous doorways that lead outside, or will everyone take the same path? Thinking about how you and your guests will naturally relax into your space will help you more easily create the outdoor living design of your dreams.
Here are 8 ideas to condiser:
1. Separate Areas by Activity
As you begin to imagine your outdoor living space, make a list of some of the activities you foresee you and your family enjoying in your backyard. This is how designers ensure that each of their projects are different and perfect for the individual.
For example, if you'd like a space to practice yoga, you should plan a small deck in a quiet, peaceful section of the yard. If your kids need a play area, think about adding a water table, blocks, or other age-appropriate activities. If you'd like a nice place to drink a cup of coffee in the morning while reading the paper, plan an area for comfortable chairs near an outdoor BBQ table.
Each of these areas can be a separate section. Use outdoor rugs or different planters and trees to add privacy and charm.
2. Create Pathways to Surprises
Once you've created these different sections, you'll want to add clear pathways to each. Plan out hallways just like a designer would inside your home. Instead of walls, you can use shrubs or decorative rocks.
Be creative, as a pathway can lead to a daily discovery of a special sitting area toward the back of your yard. You can create secluded spots with archways or low-hanging fruit trees that require you to duck to reach a favorite area.
3. Add Fire
One of the most popular outdoor design elements today is adding an outdoor table with grill that's built right in the middle. Not only can this serve as a popular place to cook and dine outdoors, but it's also a natural place for reading and gathering for an evening glass of wine.
Consider crafting an area nearby that can be used as an outdoor kitchen. Add cabinets to store utensils, spices, and other things you may otherwise need to walk inside to fetch. If your space and budget allow, you can also install a sink, refrigerator, and countertop so you can keep inside cool while cooking during the hot, summer months.
4. Remove Debris
In order to create more space to install new features in your backyard, you may first need to remove old debris. Homeowners who have lived in one place for a while often have underused areas that can be cleaned up and enjoyed.
For example, if you have an old shed, reimagine it as a hobby room or art studio. Corners where old leaves pile up can be renovated into a small vegetable garden. Overgrown bushes and trees can be trimmed professionally so that a small area for garden tools can fit underneath.
5. Think About Sunshine
Especially if you live in a warm climate, you may think outdoor living will be too sweaty. That's why you want to consider ways to incorporate shade into your backyard. Umbrellas are an inexpensive option for bringing shade to tables, but that's just the beginning.
Consider adding shade sails or installing a pergola with climbing vines that wrap their way overhead. You could even create trellises that connect overhead with long bamboo rods to filter the sunlight.
For the areas that will receive sunshine, think long-term. Cushions can fade over time, so look for materials that are made to withstand UV rays or heavy downpours. Or simply make a habit of bringing them inside when not in use!
6. Create a Garden Oasis
Landscaping makes a big difference in the look and feel of outdoor living spaces, but plants can be expensive to maintain. Research plants that are native to your area. These plants will require less watering and will be more tolerant of your natural weather conditions.
Another idea is to create a butterfly garden or hand bird feeders to invite more wildlife into your yard. Add plants like milkweed and flat-leaf parsley, as well as a fountain where these flying friends can drink and bathe. Fragrant flowering bushes will be a treat to your senses, as well.
7. Add Lights
If you plan to spend time outside in the evenings, you'll want to create a lighting system that's friendlier than the standard spotlights that can make your backyard too bright. Try lighting the different areas of your living space with a variety of lanterns and string lights. Bury electrical cords under your turf or with rocks to avoid a tripping hazard.
Solar-powered lights can illuminate walkways and give your yard a special glow. Of course, the fire and light from the outdoor table with grill can also create warmth and beauty outdoors.
8. Have Fun
Finally, have fun with this project! When you add artwork, murals, or kinetic sculptures to your outdoor living area, you give it your own personal touch. Spend time browsing flea markets and garage sales for unique pieces that are already weathered or could easily live outdoors without getting ruined.
If you have a green thumb, you can also get creative in your garden. Repurpose old boots into planters, or line your walkways with wine bottles that are buried bottom-side up. Don't be afraid to try different ideas to make your outdoor living space extra-special to you and your family.