Summer has officially arrived and for many homeowners that means long days spent in the backyard. Outdoor living will be even more enjoyable if you create your own personal oasis that is both functional and beautiful. So what follows is The Coastal Cottage Company’s top five tips for making the most of your outdoor space. We’ll especially focus on patio areas because they are one of the most desired features for new homebuyers.
We take pride in our homes and often spend a lot of time decorating and remodeling the interior. But we typically don’t think as much about our outdoor spaces. Rusted patio furniture, mildewed cushions, and splintered decks are not inviting. So when designing your patio, focus on comfort. What would encourage you and your family to spend more time in your backyard? Here are a few suggestions:
- Choose outdoor seating that is as comfortable as your indoor furniture. You are no longer limited to the plastic cushions from your childhood that made you feel hot and sweaty!
- Lay down outdoor rugs to make being barefoot on wood or cement feel more comfortable. There are so many options, including sisal, bamboo, and canvas. For inspiration, check out this collection by Houzz.com.
- Screen in your porch or deck to prevent pesky bugs from bothering you and your guests. If you have a wood deck, don’t forget that bugs can get in through the cracks between planks. Consider stapling screening to the underside of the floorboards or lay down a heavy outdoor rug.
- Comfort is not limited to how your outdoor space feels, but also how it looks. Boring concrete slabs, dead plants, and beige cushions do not encourage you to linger. Use your outdoor space as an opportunity to be creative and integrate styles you never would inside your house. For example, paint concrete a vibrant color. Choose wicker furniture or Adirondack chairs rather than the typical plastic furniture. Incorporate funky patterns like chevron or stripes. The sky’s the limit!
While comfort and style will encourage you to use your outdoor space, choosing durable materials will allow you to enjoy the space longer. Wind, sun, rain, and sand can all have ill effects on furniture.
- Look for weatherproof furniture and accessories that can resist mildew, fading, rotting, and rusting.
- For furniture, plastic is durable but fades easily in direct sunlight. While wood also fades over time, the weathered appearance is actually attractive (unlike faded plastic). Hardwoods (such as teak, cedar, and redwood) tend to be the most durable and long-lasting, especially when regularly treated with protective oil or sealant.
- For a more modern or industrial look that is lower maintenance, aluminum furniture will not rust or fade.
Create Drama with Lighting
Effective lighting can make your outdoor living space safer and more aesthetically-pleasing. Depending on the types of lights you use and their placement, you can transform your backyard into a romantic or magical getaway. Here are a few ideas:
- Use uplighting to highlight trees or architectural details. Uplighting involves placing lights below a focal point, such as a spotlight at the base of a tree, pointing upwards towards the branches.
- Illuminate walkways, rails, and steps with landscape solar lights which will help prevent people from tripping in the dark. Using solar lights will also help you reduce energy costs.
- Hang string lights to set an enchanting tone. Lanterns hanging from trees also add a bit of whimsy to your backyard. Nylon lanterns provide a much more durable option than traditional paper.
- Fire pits are another way to add both lighting and coziness to an outdoor space. Fire pit tables are a great option for a smaller space and double as a piece of useful furniture. Those who like a DIY project can make their own pits using fire brick, which is designed to withstand high temperatures. Another popular and attractive option is the chiminea, which is an outdoor fireplace that has a short chimney. Whatever type of fire pit you choose, it’s a good idea to consult local fire codes to make sure it’s legal to have an open fire in your community.
Give Yourself Some Privacy
Most of us live in close proximity to others. But even when you enjoy your neighbors, you still want privacy when relaxing in your outdoor space. Try these tips to create a private hideaway:
- Install an awning, canopy, or pergola. Not only do these provide shade, they also can block the view of neighbors looking down on your backyard from a second story. As an added benefit, awnings made of polycarbonate panels block UV rays, better protecting your skin and eyes.
- Add some outdoor drapery panels to your patio or balcony. Waterproof sailcloth is a great choice. If you don’t already have an overhead option for attaching a curtain rod, consider using a very simple wood frame to hang them on.
- Trees and shrubs are often the best option for providing a privacy screen. Make sure you consult an expert when choosing the type and placement of trees as many varieties grow quite large. The Arbor Day Foundation provides useful advice.
Maximize the View
Whether your backyard overlooks trees and grass or ocean waves, it’s important to make the most of your view. Simply being in nature has been shown to have numerous health benefits, so take advantage of your outdoor space. Try to remove as many barriers between you and your view so you can soak up maximum scenery.
- For example, steel-cable or clear-glass railing systems take a minimalist approach while still complying with safety codes.
- You could even consider eliminating the railing altogether (if building codes permit and you don’t have small children).
- Pocket doors can open an interior room to the outdoors, creating an open-air retreat. If considering this option, make sure you account for wind, bugs, and sea spray if you’re by the water.
- Louvered shutters are another option that provide more privacy and protection from bugs, but can easily be opened to reveal your spectacular view.
We hope these ideas inspire you to invest in your backyard and create a space you and your family will enjoy spending time in. And if you’re selling your home, keep in mind that 83% of homebuyers indicate having a nice patio is a desirable, even essential, feature. So let’s pledge to make the most of our outdoor spaces this summer and design the oasis we’ve always wanted!
Blog by Jessica T. Smith for The Coastal Cottage Company