The relationship between your home and its outdoor surroundings is an important one. A beautiful, functional outdoor space can complement your home aesthetically and significantly boost curb appeal.
Backyard living spaces have evolved from the 1950s idea of a grill and a picnic table on a patch of concrete to lavishly landscaped patios and decks with eating spaces for many people under shaded pergolas or ramadas. Other amenities include seating areas around a fire pit, couches and outdoor furniture, flat screen TVs, and fully outfitted outdoor kitchens with a grill, sink, and refrigerator. How will you enhance yours?
Your Road to Outdoor Living
First think about how you want to use your space. Is it primarily for entertaining and outdoor dining or other activity? How many people need seating? Do you want a formal dining area with elaborate outdoor dining sets or a more casual party space? When will you use the space most—during the heat of the day or at night?
- Plan. Even if your budget only allows you to do a small part each year, a master plan is important from the onset so you don’t end up changing your focus or your mind. You want to avoid scenarios where you’re replacing outdoor dining sets because they don’t complement the outdoor furniture.
- Design. Whether you have an expansive lawn or a small balcony, there are countless outdoor living options to suit your lifestyle and budget. Traditional, sleek and modern, or naturalistic. Whatever your taste, you can find something that will add shape, color and function, and even conceal unflattering elements. Keep in mind that your design should complement the architectural style of your home. Consider a modern outdoor living space with rock gardens and sleek and angular designs, a structured, manicured estate style or a natural, overgrown cottage style. Whatever you decide on, stick with one style for each individual design space before you begin selecting plants, outdoor furniture, colors, or outdoor dining materials.
- Budget. If you and your family are on a tight budget or have a small space, start with the outdoor living necessities by anchoring your space with lush outdoor furniture of your choosing to serve as the hub of entertainment. Arrange seating as you would in a family room to encourage conversation and relaxation. Use comfortable cushions and pillows covered in outdoor fabric liberally. Add large patio umbrellas or build a pergola or ramada to provide shade. Next, focus on your outdoor dining options. In summer, the best seat in the house is outside—especially at mealtime. Outdoor dining sets come in three basic materials—wood, metal and synthetics—so choose the one that suits your lifestyle.
- Go big. If you find you want to take your outdoor living experience to the next level, consider adding an outdoor kitchen and bar area or a stone fireplace. For hardscape options, stone walls around the patio are a great way to add extra seating and enhance the feel of the outdoor room. If a swimming pool or spa fits in your budget, you’ll want to plan for that early in the design process. A well-designed pool entertainment area can boost your family’s enjoyment, not to mention the resale appeal of your home. Remove old sheds and eye sores.
Remember, you don’t have to do everything all at once. Start with an overall outdoor living plan, and then build your space in stages as your budget and time allows. Hiring a professional landscaper or pool company can make the process much easier.