As with any space in your home, an outdoor living space requires thought and careful consideration at the planning stages. It’s often very easy to feel overwhelmed by good ideas, and lose track of which ones will actually work best in your given space.
To help you navigate through this, writer and outdoor furnishings expert Robert Bridgman is here to share his expertise on designing an outdoor space that’s perfect for the spring season and beuyond.
For those of us with the luxury of a little bit of outdoor space, there are a few easy steps that will guarantee friends and family inviting themselves over, hopefully just as often as they are welcome. Many of the ideas that we naturally implement with our indoor spaces apply equally to creating a comfortable outdoor living space.
Define your vision
Whether your ultimate vision is dining al fresco on a rattan furniture set, curling up on an outdoor sofa to have a glass of wine with friends, or creating a quiet spot to read and enjoy some greenery, a great room is just like any other room in your house – it should do one thing and do it well. Just like you would never throw a sofa in the middle of your dining room, you want to be careful not to ask your outdoor space to do too many things at once.
Give it some height
Height in an outdoor space can help give a sense of privacy and mystery, just as a wall does indoors. In exterior applications, a wooden structure such as an arbour can help define the perimeter of the space, and offer the possibility of adding shade or lighting to your outdoor room. Small ornamental trees, or manicured shrubbery can also create needed height, helping define a space without hard edges.
Think about paving
Paving can be a wonderful addition to an outdoor living space, creating a comfortable and even surface for walking and furniture placement. Like an outdoor structure, paving also helps define the extents of the living space. Much like the extensive choices for flooring on interiors, exterior paving runs the gamut from formal to informal, including materials such as stone, brick, wood or concrete. Varying patterns also add another layer of choices, and another way to give character to a space.
Plants are what make a space come alive. If you’re a keen gardener, this is your chance to show off your prize blossoms, and give your space some vivid personality. If gardening is just one more thing to think you’d rather not think about, low maintenance plants can provide some welcome colour throughout the seasons.
Find the furniture
The most important element of an inviting outdoor living space is the furniture. Great outdoor furniture makes the purpose of a “room” instantly understandable to visitors, and makes them feel comfortable enough to relax and spend some time there. If your vision is to have a great space for outdoor dining, think about flexibility in numbers. A dining space should feel as comfortable for an intimate dinner as it does for a more formal group dinner.
In the same vein, modular outdoor furniture should also provide options for various seating formats, so that more than one conversation can happen comfortably in the space. Cushioned furniture can be a great way to make your outdoor even more comfortable to while away a few hours in.
Add some accessories
Just like a throw on an indoor sofa, or some candles in a bedroom instantly say home, a few extra creature comforts can catapult a good space to a great space. Accessories such as extra outdoor cushions, distinctive end tables, and even an outdoor fire pit can add an extra touch of cosiness for your soon-to-be guests. Outdoor lighting can also extend the usage of an outdoor space well into the evening hours.
Once you have your perfect outdoor living space set up, the rest is as easy as you want it to be. Call your friends, family and neighbours over for a little food and drink, and enjoy sharing with them your wonderful outdoor living space.