5 Tips for Creating an Outdoor Space You Won’t Want to Leave
Build the perfect porch, patio, or rooftop oasis with these tips
Here at The Spruce, we have taken the springtime to overhaul our surroundings, ensuring every nook and cranny of our home reaches its full potential. While home offices, kitchens, baths, and even mudrooms are focus areas for many, we feel like outdoor spaces shouldn't go unchecked any longer.
“Staycations at home and enjoying all spaces is really the priority for our clients, and outdoor spaces are no exception,” designer Jenn Feldman says. “Being able to entertain in the home with friends and family—in all spaces and in all seasons—is a trend we do not see changing anytime soon."
Outdoor spaces are no longer a second thought—porches, patios, and yards are truly thought of as an extension of the home, whether that means a second dining room, a space for entertaining, or simply a retreat from a long day.
The great outdoors is coming in, in a big way, and it starts with creating a space you’ll never want to leave. Here, our design experts share five ways you can create an outdoor space that’s meant for year-round enjoyment.
Jenn Feldman is the founder and principal designer of Los Angeles-based Jenn Feldman Designs.
Angela Hamwey is the founder and principal designer of Cape Cod-based Mackenzie and Co.
Consider Your Lifestyle
Just like the interior of the home, it’s important to design your outdoors to accommodate your specific lifestyle needs, according to designer Angela Hamwey. No matter your list of requirements, considering how you plan to use the space and what’s realistic for your lifestyle is key. Once you do, there are certain aspects of creating the ideal outdoor space that shouldn’t be overlooked.
“First and foremost, comfortable seating is key in an outdoor space,” Hamwey says. “The goal is to create a place where friends and family can relax, enjoy each other’s company, and perhaps have a meal or glass of wine together.”
When it comes to entertaining, she also suggests outdoor speakers for pleasing background noise and a firepit for delivering both warmth and ambiance.
Focus on Landscaping
It might be tempting to focus on the furnishings, firepits, and string lights, but beyond your central outdoor gathering space, there’s likely a yard or garden that’s deserving of attention, too.
“Landscaping plays a crucial role in creating a dreamy outdoor oasis,” Hamwey says. “Whether you have sprawling gardens or lush greenery, having well-manicured surroundings is essential for creating a relaxing environment.”
You’ll want to give both time and consideration to the types of plants you introduce as well as your overall goals for your outdoor green space. Finding ways to incorporate planters, containers, and more can help create a lush oasis, even if you’re a city dweller or don’t have a full yard to play with.
“Landscaping is the cohesive layer that brings the exterior palette and finishes together in the perfect backdrop,” Feldman says. “The organic shapes and colors in potted plants allow for a mood, tone, and overall ‘oasis’ feeling to be set and truly enjoy the space.”
Keep the Palette Cohesive
An outdoor space shouldn’t be thought of as an island—meaning, it needs to work with what’s going on indoors as well.
“We always design the indoor and outdoor spaces to feel cohesive to a home's palette, especially when an outdoor seating area is off of a family or kitchen space,” Feldman says. “An outdoor area is really an extension of our living spaces."
She likes to keep her larger furnishings in more neutral tones, and allow the smaller pieces to play a more swappable role.
“Changing accent fabrics on pillows or the colors in surrounding florals and softscape are easy areas to reinvent season to season,” Feldman suggests.
Create Separate Spaces
With larger outdoor areas, differentiating spaces based on use or purpose can help create order and flow. Maybe one section of your yard can house a lounge area with a sofa and comfortable chairs, and around the corner could be a separate dining area with a proper dining table to enjoy meals at. Feldman notes that this distinction helps define the space and make it functional.
Consider how you can use shade to carve out specific spaces as well. Whether a freestanding umbrella or a permanent awning, these shade-makers can act in a similar way to indoor area rugs, grounding the space and creating specific functions for various spaces within the larger area.
“For example, your dining table could have an umbrella built into it or you could have a freestanding umbrella positioned next to your lounge chairs or sofa,” Feldman says. “A covered area also provides an spot to gather should the weather take an unexpected turn.”
Don’t Skip on the Details
The décor details matter outside just as much as they do inside, so give them the proper thought and weight to create a space that’s as comfortable and inviting as your indoor living spaces.
“Lighting is an important element to consider outdoors as it helps to set the mood and create ambiance,” Hamwey says. “You may want to incorporate candles, lanterns, or string lights to create a warm and welcoming feel.” But don’t stop there—blankets, an outdoor rug, and more are all elements that can help you create the oasis you’ve been dreaming of.
“Material selection will be important for these items as well as they will likely be exposed to weather and direct sunlight,” Hamwey advises. “Ultimately, a high-performance outdoor textile will be easy to clean, offer fade-resistant properties, and require minimal maintenance, but we always recommend storing these items away when they’re not in use.”
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