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Creating an Outdoor Oasis in Your Own Backyard

Creating an Outdoor Oasis in Your Own Backyard

The summer season is fast approaching, and with the promise of sunny skies and warm temps comes the desire to spend as much time as possible enjoying the great outdoors. While many homeowners are content to simply set out a patio table and chairs and to string a few strands of colorful outdoor lights along deck rails, creating an outdoor oasis in your own backyard can be done simply and without spending a fortune on extensive renovations.

Whether you’re searching for an easy and inexpensive way to dress up your deck for the summer or you’re looking for a more intensive overhaul of your patio or backyard, the following tips will provide options for creating an outdoor escape regardless of the size of your budget or the space you’re working with.

Photo: FindingWinter.com

Selecting Outdoor Seating Options

Perhaps the simplest way to give your patio, deck or backyard space a brand-new look without racking up serious costs is to swap your current seating situation with something more sophisticated. Ditch your basic fold-up lawn or camp chairs and opt instead for inexpensive-but-better-quality seating from a local home improvement store. From coastal cottages to mountaintop retreats, Adirondack chairs are a popular option that provides both comfort and style no matter where your humble abode is located.  

If you’re on a limited budget, purchase lightweight plastic Adirondack chairs that can easily be moved from one spot to another. If you have a little more money to spend and want to give your backyard a more sophisticated appearance, solid wood Adirondack chairs are the way to go. In addition to being a versatile style of seating that looks great in backyards from the city to the suburbs and virtually everywhere in between, one of the biggest advantages of opting for Adirondack chairs is the fact that they come in a wide array of colors, so you’ll be sure to find something that coincides nicely with the rest of your home’s outdoor décor.

Photo: MemorableDecor.com

Arranging Your New Seating

Choosing a type of seating is a key element to enhancing your outdoor space, but equally important is making sure you have enough seating for guests and that you place it in a pattern that best accommodates the space you have available. While you may only need seating for yourself and your immediate family on a regular basis, having plenty of extra seating for guests is a must if you plan on doing any outdoor entertaining at your home this season. If you don’t have the space to keep additional seating outside all the time, opt for stackable chairs and store them in your cottage’s garage or utility closet. This way, you can easily retrieve your chairs and set them out when you know guests will be coming by for an event or party, without cluttering up your outdoor space should they not be used frequently by your own family.

Photo: Home Depot

Ensuring you have enough seats for everyone who attends an event or get-together at your home is essential, but it’s also important to remember that seating should be arranged properly to assist with the flow of communication and movement. Many decks—particularly those on the sides of beach homes and cottages—are long and skinny and require chairs to be placed in a row; however, if you want to facilitate an open conversation among friends and family, try your best to arrange chairs in a cluster where guests will be facing one another.

Another great way to encourage interaction among guests is to arrange the chairs in a circle so no one is left out of a conversation. Placing a fire pit in the center of the circle of chairs is an excellent way to add a focal point and enhance the ambiance, even if it means you have to relocate your seating space from the decks to the backyard, where more room is available for such seating. That said, if your coastal cottage has a view you want to enjoy with your guests—such as the ocean, sound, canal or saltmarsh—make sure you also offer options where you and your guests can kick back and relax on a deck with a scenic view of the world around you.

Photo: Cybball.com


Planting Flowers and Potted Palms

Nothing says creating a natural environment in your own backyard quite like bringing a variety of potted plants and flowers into your outdoor living space. Develop the illusion of relaxing on a deserted island by purchasing and planting native species of palm trees along the perimeter of your backyard or patio. Just make sure the specific types you pick will successfully grow in your geographic region before shelling out a significant amount of money on trees or shrubs that won’t make it through the season.

Photo: Pinterest

Don’t have room for standard-size palm trees or ferns in your outdoor living space because you reside in an apartment or condo—or because you simply want to bring the oasis to an upper-level deck where they won’t likely fit? That’s not a problem. Just swing by a local nursery or home improvement store’s garden center and select species of plants or palms that stay relatively small and do well in portable container pots. Be sure to spend a couple of weeks scoping out the amount of sunshine that area of your yard or deck receives on a regular basis so that you choose the species of plants or palms you want to plant wisely.

Privacy, Privacy, Privacy

Whether you want to use your revamped outdoor area for yourself and a small group of family members on a regular basis or you intend to use it primarily for large outdoor parties and events, the space you create won’t feel like much of an outdoor oasis if you can feel your neighbors’ prying eyes on you while you soak up the sun, sip on a cocktail or enjoy a good book in your favorite new set of seating. To truly create a sense of privacy, the obvious choice is a privacy fence that surrounds your entire yard and stands tall enough that neighbors and passersby can’t see over the top. If you live in a condo, however, or if you are renting your current residence and aren’t permitted to put up fencing, the next best options are outdoor tapestries, blinds, latticework fencing, dense netting and privacy shields.

Photo: Pinterest.com

A wide array of privacy options that are suitable to be set up outdoors and will easily withstand UV rays and strong winds that commonly occur in coastal regions are available online or at your local home goods store. Whatever you select, make sure you fasten it securely and don’t create any type of eyesore for your neighbors to look at from surrounding properties. Once you have added sufficient privacy features to your backyard, patio or deck, you can gather up that guest list and invite your friends, family members and coworkers over to enjoy an afternoon or evening in your newly renovated outdoor oasis that will make you regret spending a single moment inside since you now have your very own piece of paradise right outside your back door.

Beautiful pergola in a forest-like backyard. Make the most of your outdoor space.

Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space

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.

Prioritize Comfort

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!
Back porch overlooking pool with built-in grill. Make the most of your outdoor space.
What does your dream backyard look like? This outdoor space was designed and built by The Coastal Cottage Company.

Think Durable

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.
Beautiful home with pool and patio. Make the most of your outdoor space.
This home features a lovely pool deck with patio furniture, chimenea, and pergola. Home designed by The Coastal Cottage Company.

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.
Uplighting trees. Make the most of your outdoor space.
An example of uplighting. Image by Stoneworx: http://stoneworxpa.com/

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.
Maximize your view. Make the most of your outdoor space.
Who wouldn’t love looking at this view everyday? Home designed and built by The Coastal Cottage Company.

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

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