Jonathan Scott talks design for outdoor living
When fair weather arrives, who wants to stay inside? Make the most of it by fashioning an outdoor living space, which can be as simple or elaborate as you please.
Consider the following ideas to create a space that enhances both your enjoyment of your home and its value.
1. Locate the space for maximum convenience. Keep the seating area close to the back door. You can start with an existing patio or deck or create a new one. Consider the context: where possible, have your outdoor living space away from neighbours and orient it toward attractive landscaping or views. Take design cues from your house, echoing its paint colours or materials to make the outdoor space feel like an extension of your home.
2. Define the space to achieve a sense of enclosure. Your outdoor room’s “floor” could be thin stone slabs laid on concrete, or big concrete pavers with grass or pea gravel in the spaces between them. Often, the house will serve as a wall, or two, for the outdoor room, which can be further defined with elements such as latticework, low stone or brick walls or an arbor structure. Latticework can provide shade and privacy. You can give a deck a more room-like feel by incorporating benches and planters into railings, and adding a roof. Indeed, putting a suitable roof (anything from wood shingles to a retractable awning) over some, or all, of your outdoor space will make it more useful in cool or damp weather.
3. You can also extend your outdoor time with a fire pit, fireplace or gas heater (the kind you see on restaurant terraces). The glow of a fire makes an outdoor room feel cozy. You’ve already got earth and air, so why not add fire, and while you’re at it, the fourth element, water? Whether it’s a fountain or an ornamental pond with aquatic plants, this can be a focal point or simply a source of pleasant sound and reflections.
4. Furnish the space for durability and low maintenance, but treat it like a real room. Today, fashionable outdoor furniture is available in every style and material, while outdoor fabrics and rugs look (and feel) better than ever. Substantial furniture pieces and distinctive pillows and accessories will make the space feel homey. Pick a bold accent colour, perhaps drawn from flowers in your garden. Candle lanterns and candelabras work well outside, but it’s also worth having the space wired for outdoor-rated lighting. A wired pendant light or sconces can complement landscape lighting, all of it working together to create a festive mood for al fresco entertaining. Outdoor speakers can add to the effect.
5. To go whole hog, cap your outdoor living/dining area with a full-fledged outdoor kitchen, complete with grill, sink and compact refrigerator. Or, you can just add more presence to your grill by building an island next to it (perhaps topped with stone left over from the floor) that will double as an outdoor bar and buffet.
6. Enhance the area surrounding your outdoor room with additional landscaping, such as ornamental bushes or trees that can serve as a focal point and privacy screen. Vines can embellish an arbor or turn latticework into green walls. Adding plants to the outdoor room, itself, in containers that complement your outdoor décor, will provide pops of colour and connect it visually to the garden.
Creating an outdoor living space pays dividends even in colder places, where the warm months are greatly relished. Make it as inviting as an indoor space and it will be like adding a room to your house, at a fraction of the cost.
Catch Jonathan Scott with his brother Drew every week on W Network's Property Brothers and Buying & Selling.
Follow Jonathan on Twitter @MrSilverScott
Follow Drew on Twitter @MrDrewScott.