How to Create a Great Outdoor Living Area

  • Denise Graves
  • 07/17/18
 

By: Denise Graves 

When traveling to Europe and the interior of Mexico, I have noticed a distinct difference in the way these countries use their outdoor spaces. From lush rooftop terraces, patio cafés, and alfresco dining, their outdoor areas are an extension of their living spaces. In America, we traditionally had a barbecue pit, some patio furniture, and maybe a pool. That has normally been the extent of our outdoor living. Trends in America are changing and we are now embracing our outdoor spaces as an extension of our indoor living spaces.

So, what does it take to make a great outdoor living area? Whether you are reimagining your outdoors for a potential buyer (if your home is on the market), or for yourself and all those fabulous parties you dream of hosting this summer, there are key components that make your space one to remember.

Think of your outside living just like you would your living room and kitchen. Start with the  basics. You’ll need a plan for the landscape, the hardscape, and the pool if you have one. A good landscape architect will save you time and money and you’ll end up with a professional- looking product. However, in this day of HGTV, many of us decide we can do it ourselves. If you decide to tackle it on your own, do your research and have  a plan. Put it on paper and map it out. Your goal is that every part of your patio, yard, and pool should have a purpose, but one with a flair!

If You Are Trying to Sell Your Home,
Every Angle and View Should Be Pleasing to the Eye.

Most of us don’t have a blank slate to work with so take a critical look at the appearance of the exterior of your home - from the front, side, and back. This is the time to trim bushes, clean out flower beds, and add fresh mulch. You also need to make sure that your exterior paint looks fresh and patios and furniture are clean and inviting. Does your back patio need a power wash? Don’t forget driveways and walkways. Now is the time to make sure your outside shows as well as your inside. 
 
If you have scraggly plants, chances are the location of the plantings aren’t working. Get rid  of them and put  something in that works better for the exposure in your yard. There are great choices for plants that need shade or full sun. Local nurseries can be a great resource. Pots are also an instant way to add color and they can be updated, moved, and changed depending on the season. Whether you prefer something orderly and more formal, something lush and tropical, or an English cottage look - pick a style, read up on it, and stick with it.

For Warm Texas Summers, Don’t Forget Fans, Umbrellas, and Misters.

Of course, pools are a favorite way for Texans to beat the heat and help get the most out of your outdoor life. If you don’t have one, don’t despair. You only need a covered patio, arbor, pavilion, umbrella, or a shady spot for an inviting place to dine and relax. There are all-weather fabrics that allow you to be as elegant or casual as you like. Check out Pinterest for creative ideas. Don’t forget chaises or a patio set by the pool. Everything doesn’t have to match, but again pick a theme and stick to it. There are so many options now for luxurious- looking, yet practical, outdoor furniture to make sure your outside shows as well as your inside.

No matter your budget or the size of your space,
there are many great choices.

 
 
Buy the best furniture you can afford and don’t be afraid of color. Nature offers a great backdrop for vibrant color. If you prefer a neutral palette, you can still add an unexpected pop of color with  plants, pillows, or art. You want to create visual surprise in your space. I have a friend who has a gorgeous French Chateau-style home with classic wrought iron furniture, but she also added a bit of whimsy with a swinging loveseat. You can create a resort or spa experience with just a little imagination.
 
In Texas, most backyards aren’t complete without a grill or barbecue area. Outdoor kitchens are a popular addition and you can make it as casual or extravagant as your budget allows. Outdoor fireplaces, televisions, and refrigerators all add to the outdoor experience. 

If you have scraggly plants, chances are the location of the plantings aren’t working. Get rid  of them and put something in that works better for the exposure in your yard. There are great choices for plants that need shade or full sun. Local nurseries can be a great resource. Pots are also an instant way to add color and they can be updated, moved, and changed depending on the season. Whether you prefer something orderly and more formal, something lush and tropical, or an English cottage look - pick a style, read up on it, and stick with it.
 

Lighting is the finishing touch to the masterpiece you’ve created. 

Uplight trees, other landscape features, and architectural elements of your home. Rope lighting is an easy, quick accent tool. Your outdoor living area should reflect your vision and lifestyle, making it a place you want to spend your warm, summer days.

 
 
 

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