It’s that time of year again! Does all this beautiful weather have you daydreaming about hosting al fresco dinner parties and outdoor movie nights? Are you stuck on where to begin with designing your outdoor living space? With a little planning, you will soon be on your way to having the backyard of your warm-weather dreams! Here are our tips for tackling your summer backyard project.
The first step is thinking about your backyard in terms of zones, according to their functions. In the same way that a home’s interior is designed in zones based upon their purposes, we want to think of our backyard in the same way. Take a few minutes to create a bubble sketch outlining each area. Think about how each space will be used, and what part of the yard would be optimal for each function. For example, having the outdoor kitchen closest to the home is helpful for running back and forth if other supplies are needed or food needs to be transported to the grill. Also, it would be easier to run any plumbing or electrical that may be needed, without running those lines further from your home. When deciding the best place for each zone, remember to consider comfort and exposure to the elements and comfort. Think through all possible scenarios. For example, TV watching could become challenging if your lounge area faces the harsh afternoon sun.
Examples of different zones:
- Kids’ Play Area
- Fitness Area
A helpful tip in creating visual zones is using different ground materials. An example would be, tile flooring in the kitchen/dining zone, decking in the lounge area, pea gravel in the kids’ play area, and groundcover in the garden. Porcelain tiles are an ideal choice for your deck or patio area because this material performs well under extreme weather conditions. These tiles are nonporous, fade-resistant, easy to care for, and can provide excellent slip resistance.
The dream of having an outdoor kitchen is what prompts many to embark on their backyard project. Long gone are the days where the chef is stuck in the kitchen while everyone is having all the fun. In planning your outdoor kitchen, it’s important to consider the relationship between your indoor and your outdoor kitchens. What functions do you plan to use from the main kitchen, and what do you plan to incorporate in your outdoor kitchen:
- Running water
- Gas Grill, Smoker, or Charcoal Grill
- Bar details: Tap, Wine Refrigerator, and/or Ice Maker
Once you have determined what will be installed in your outdoor kitchen, think of the layout in the same way your main kitchen was designed. Create zones for hot areas (grills), cold areas (refrigeration), wet areas (sink), and dry areas (storage). Your outdoor kitchen needs to be durable and tough. The materials that you select should be able to withstand the elements of the outdoors, but also be low maintenance and easy to take care of. Natural stones (granite, soapstone, quartzite), concrete, and porcelain tiles, are all suitable countertop choices for your outdoor kitchen. For durable, water-resistant cabinetry, consider a marine grade polymer or waterproof PVC product. Both offer the versatility of a wood or paint aesthetic, but with the durability of steel.
Need a sprig of cilantro? That new, dreamy outdoor kitchen of yours would definitely benefit from a nearby raised garden bed or a vertical plant wall. Raised beds are a great option for growing a small crop of your favorite herbs, veggies, or flowers without having to worry about weeds or pests. Once you have located the perfect spot for your raised beds, why not go a step further to incorporate a potting station? There’s nothing more frustrating than having to drag all of your supplies with you every time you head to the garden. A centrally located potting station not only provides ideal function, but they’re also aesthetically pleasing. If limited space for raised beds is a concern, we love these vertical plant walls as an alternative. They’re perfect for space saving, while also creating lush wall décor.
When planning your outdoor living space, why not include a “play zone” where the kid in all of us can come out? Crazy schedules, hectic lives, and too much time spent in front of “screens” are the perfect reasons to create an outdoor space for fun. Brainstorm the needs of your home to help design a space that everyone enjoys. Does “Queen’s Gambit” have everyone in the house vying for the position as grandmaster? Consider a large, outdoor chess board for a family activity. Do you have dogs that would enjoy large areas to run and play fetch? Keep that in mind when planning for open spaces. A playhouse is a great way to encourage imaginative play and to give our little ones a place to escape while still enjoying the outdoors. Get creative with not-so-permanent-fixtures, like hammocks, rope swings, and hanging tent swings. What a great reading spot that the whole family will be fighting for!
Creating spaces to spend quality time with family & friends is a primary goal of having an outdoor living space. Planning and designing for the versatility of intimate conversations or larger gatherings is key. Fire Pits are a perfect conversation spot for all ages. An added bonus is that they can be used all year round. Treat your outdoor spaces in the same manner as your interior when it comes to selecting comfortable seating, layering textiles, and adding mood lighting. Create an experience that feels homey and inviting. If you enjoy drinking your coffee on the porch, consider a swing bed for cozy mornings.
4 Key Elements:
- Comfortable Seating
- Layering Textiles (Rugs, Pillows, Throws)
- Greenery (Planters, Pots, Living walls)
- Mood Lighting (Woven Chandeliers, String Lights, Lanterns)
Creating the perfect outdoor living space is a lot like designing for the interior of your home. Defining areas for different functions and considering the appropriate material selections for the space, as well as bringing the inside out by adding cozy elements with your décor. Start with defining your zones and the rest will follow. Before you know it, you will be lounging on your porch swing, dreaming up your next design project.
Did you miss our April Blog? Read about Bathroom Design Trends for 2021 here!