The amount of outdoor space available to each person is different. Whether you have a small balcony or sloping acres of greenery, it’s just as important to create an outdoor space that is comfortable, versatile and useful – and that takes some planning.
Create a green space
Greenery will be the star of your outdoor space, so no matter the size, a few plants or easy-to-care-for succulents, will add an element of life and energy to your outdoor space, with very little effort or cost. Think of your outdoor space as an extension of your home. Adding plants and greenery will add life and nature to even the most urban of areas.
Water is life
Water creates a multi-pronged experience, offering movement, cool, soothing sounds and a very natural look. Incorporating water into smaller outdoor spaces is as easy as adding a small battery operated fountain, while those with a larger outdoor space can choose to install larger fountains or a swimming pool area. More adventurous people might choose to create a DIY water wall in their outdoor space using recycled materials.
Create an outdoor kitchen
An outdoor kitchen or cooking area is a great way to make use of your outdoor space in just the way you use your indoor spaces. An outdoor cooking area gives you twice the space for guests and food preparation, and everyone loves a good back-yard or roof-top barbeque! Consider creating easy-to-maintain outdoor shelving or furniture using recycled shipping pallets, or if an outdoor kitchen is out of your budget, create an outdoor bar or lounge area with enough space to eat, drink and relax with friends and family.
Invest in smart outdoor furniture
All outdoor furniture was not created equal. You wouldn’t expect guests to snuggle up on a hard wooden bench in your living room, so why would you expect this to be OK in your outdoor space? If you want to spend long hours in your space reading, chatting, eating or relaxing comfortably, invest in outdoor pillows or sectionals. An outdoor dining table is a great way to encourage more time outside, and creates a sense of community as you gather around for a picnic meal in luxury.
Choose colors carefully
Don’t underestimate how the right color pallet will create a restful and comfortable outdoor space. Some designers recommend painting fences or walls black or dark green, to help your greenery or furniture to pop. People hoping to create a restful outdoor space tend to use neutral or pastel colors to create a calm and uncluttered atmosphere.
Don’t forget your vertical space!
If you are running low on outdoor floor space, consider hanging baskets or creeping vines. A bare wall or porch area can be accessorized with hanging plants, wind-chimes or a string of soft hanging lights, that will keep the bugs to a minimum, and make your space bright enough to be used day and night. You might find your vertical space taken up by utilities like a propane water heater. Use the look of any permanent outside structure to inspire the flow of the rest of the space, and either hide it with greenery or furniture, or incorporate a more industrial look to make sure it doesn’t feel out of place.
Your chosen greenery should reflect how often you use the space. For example, if you find yourself using your outdoor area year-round, consider using evergreen plants that stay green all year. If the changing of the seasons makes you happy, the red and gold of Japanese maples in the fall is the way to go. Some city dwellers even make use of hanging pots to grow vegetables like tomatoes or herbs in their outdoor area, but don’t go overboard! A massive porch garden means a portion of the year (colder months) most of your outdoor space will be monopolized by dead or hibernating plants, which is no one’s favorite look.
Less is more when it comes to outdoor space. Greenery and your surroundings should be the star of the show. If you live in an urban area with light pollution or close neighbours, incorporate more greenery and natural elements into your design. If you have a more private and rural space with natural greenery, make the space comfortable and inviting using the outdoor furniture and creative lighting, to create contrast with the natural surroundings. Your outdoor space is a way to add square footage to your living area, and soak up some refreshing and revitalizing nature and air. Relaxing outdoor spaces don’t depend on deep pockets – it’s all about creativity and making smart use of the space you have.