Decorating & Design
March 16, 2009
Treat your home’s exterior space like you would the rest of your house and you’ll find you’ll be spending more and more time outside.
Ideas for seating, reading, play and cooking/dining areas can all be pilfered from our interiors and given new life outdoors. With the proper considerations, you can create wonderful, comfortable and functional backyard “rooms”.
As always, a functional room needs a good base. Grass, concrete, brick, stone or gravel are all popular flooring options and each material offers a different look. For example, grass is typically more casual while flagstone creates a more formal appearance.
Choose jute, sisal, seagrass or all-weather synthetic fibre rugs to delineate your sitting areas. These materials dry quickly and offer an extra touch of texture.
Get comfortable with new resilient fabrics. Outdoor fabric manufacturers like Sunbrella have expanded their fabric lines to include great new colours and patterns, bridging the gap between exterior furniture and traditional interior furnishings.
Make sure that your exterior living spaces are properly illuminated so that they can be used at night too. As with interiors, outdoor spaces need to be thoughtfully lit. Candles in glass hurricanes lanterns, oil lamps, wall sconces, string lights, garden path lights and flood lights are just some of the possibilities for creating an inviting outdoor area with nighttime efficiency.
Outdoor illumination tip: Glass vases from inside your home can double as outdoor hurricane lanterns: Place a candle inside each vase and steady with pretty rocks or sand.
More and more homeowners are incorporating fireplaces into their backyards. Whether contained in a metal fire pit or built into a stone chimney, an outdoor fireplace is a great way to warm up a cool, starry night.
Create a designated sitting area: two Adirondack or Muskoka chairs side by side on a porch are inviting, but add cushions to the chairs, a table topped with candles, a natural weave rug and you’ve got an instant outdoor living space.
Transform a simple barbecue into an outdoor kitchen by adding a prep table for cooking utensils, plates and spices. A teak trolley can work as as an outdoor bar and equipped with an ice bucket, drinks, and glasses, you won’t need to go inside for refills.
Define an area or establish an entrance with an arbor or pergola. From simple twig arches to elaborate wooden or metal gazebos, outdoor architecture adds visual interest and another surface on which greenery can grow.