Painting a picture with outdoor design.
If there’s one thing that seems to be universally true about people, it’s this: Human beings will always take the path of least resistance.
It’s a subconscious thing. We’d rather be in the fastest moving lane on the highway, the shortest lineup for popcorn and the most direct flight to a destination.
Agree? I thought so.
As a designer, this tendency intrigues me. And it can help guide the design choices I make, too. Let me paint you a picture.
Let’s say Joe and Wendy Homeowner built an outdoor living space because they need to wind down without the hassles of travel. They’ve got a large deck with decorative railings, and a staircase leading down to a patio area with an outdoor fire pit. Sounds nice, right? Sure.
But what happens when it comes time to relax? The kids have eaten dinner, the kitchen is finally clean and the open laptops are gently humming, reminding Joe and Wendy that they have unanswered emails. Ping. Ping. Ping.
What do they do?
They’d like to pour a glass of wine, go outside and light a fire. For some reason though, just like last night, the cursed light of the laptop sucked them in like a moth to a bug zapper!
Why did the computer win… again? I have a theory.
When Joe and Wendy looked longingly toward their backyard – through either the door or the windows from their kitchen – NOTHING CAUGHT THEIR EYE!
Yes, the design of their outdoor space was pleasant enough, but you could only see the interesting features when you were already outside.
Classic mistake, which resulted in Joe and Wendy taking the path of least resistance, looking down at their devices, staying glued to their screens.
Here’s my response. When I am designing any space, I need to see pictures of how that space looks from the most frequented areas of the house. This is key to creating and positioning the critical focal points. They need to look fantastic outdoors, but it’s just as important that they create the emotional draw that will compete with that stinking laptop from inside the house.
What might those focal points be? Sky’s the limit: a decorative screen, a waterfall, a pergola, a gazebo, a fire feature! Whatever the focal point is, it will have some sort of lighting to draw the eye at night and it will almost always be something that is built above the railing of the deck. It must be visible from inside the house.
I can tell you this from experience. When “quick decision” time came, if Joe and Wendy had glanced outside to see a simple cascading water feature, illuminated in pale blue light that also shone upon two lounge chairs, would they hesitate? If they could see a gas fireplace that reminded them that they could flip a switch, turn on a fire and feel like they were at a resort in seconds, the email would be a lot less interesting.
So, when you are having your backyard oasis designed, make sure you make the placement of the focal point one of your top priorities. You won’t regret it. But you will enjoy it – a lot more often!