by Kimberly Blackford
You wake to a perfectly sunny day. After a long stretch to awaken your senses you head to the French doors and swing them open to reveal an amazing oasis with stunning gardens, patios and an outdoor waterfall. No, you are not on vacation - you are experiencing the luxury of your very own outdoor living area!
It seems Americans have taken the idea of a “staycation” to a whole new level. Instead of jetting off to pricey tropical vacation destinations, now more homeowners than ever are looking to invest their income into something that matters, their home. Why not invest in something you can truly enjoy every single day? Homeowners are enjoying staying at home and that includes entertaining on a more regular basis. With many opting for smaller, more compact and efficient homes, it seems only natural that entertaining and everyday living is now heading outdoors. The line between the interior spaces and the exterior ones has been blurred more than ever before.
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“Over the past couple of years, we’ve really seen a desire for homeowners to bring an indoor entertainment experience to the outdoors. Through adding things like fireplaces, fire pits, outdoor kitchens, televisions, sound systems, etc., the party has moved to the outdoors,” says Eric Ringhofer, Lead Designer at Green Guys.
Think of your outdoor space as another room in your home. Gone are the days of rickety old rusted patio furniture and a wilted plant in one corner of the concrete slab patio. The best outdoor living areas rival the interior ones by creating an open flow that encourages easy entertaining, dining and relaxing.
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To get started planning this space, list some features you would like to incorporate into your outdoor surroundings. Do you love the idea of an outdoor kitchen? Then make that one of the focal points. If your budget is small, maybe a deluxe grill is all you need to get the area ready for entertaining. Or, if you plan to spare no expense, then there are countless amenities available including: built-in grills, stovetops, refrigerators, and even a pizza oven can be a family fun spot that no doubt will be a conversation starter when friends are over.
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There are two other popular features being added to outdoor spaces all across the country - one being a fire source, and another being a water element. Both mesmerizing as well as relaxing, fire and water features are quickly gaining popularity in climates all across America. When it comes to fire - fire pits, outdoor fireplaces, and even barbecue grills fall into this popular category. Often evoking memories of childhood campfires and family time, adding a place where everyone can gather around a fire pit or outdoor fireplace is bound to become a favorite backyard destination especially when the weather starts to cool down. This feature is an excellent way to extend your time in the outdoors earlier in the spring and later into the fall and early winter. Whether it’s an intimate gathering with couples enjoying some wine on a fall evening, or a lively night with the entire family roasting marshmallows, one thing is for sure; a fireplace or fire pit is bound to create countless memories.
Another focal point cropping up in outdoor spaces everywhere are water features. From waterfalls and fountains, to hot tubs and swimming pools, a water feature is a welcomed amenity that appeals to the senses. Nothing says refreshing like the cool, crystal blue waters of a swimming pool. And, the bubbling sound of a fountain or waterfall instantly refreshes and relaxes the soul. So, whatever your budget, there is a water solution for your outdoor room.
In order to pull together an outdoor room and truly make it have a seamless transition from the indoor spaces of your home, here are some tips:
Start by selecting a finish for your patio that mimics your interior flooring and instantly expand your living space visually. “We’ve seen a lot of time and thought go into treating and decorating outdoor patios like indoor rooms - again sort of bringing the look and feel of the home’s interior to its outdoor spaces creating a cohesive experience between the indoors and outdoors,” says Ringhofer. “We’ve been installing paver patios for years, but they are really starting to become the gold standard as people move away from the somewhat less interesting plain or stamped concrete, to the more aesthetically pleasing pavers and flagstone products that have also proven to be a wiser investment in terms of long term value and durability.” So, start with the floor and select a beautiful foundation that mirrors your interior spaces. It will create a solid design anchor that will merge your indoor and outdoor rooms perfectly. If your outdoor space is covered like many are today, you may even wish to use ceramic tile or other stone tile surfaces that can be used both indoors and outdoors for the ultimate seamless look.
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Another way to blend spaces is to select furniture that resembles the interior style when it comes to colors and textures. This will further enhance the open feel of these merging spaces naturally and will keep the areas from looking disjointed. When investing in outdoor furniture, it is sometimes best to stick to natural neutral colors such as brown, beige, white, and other earth tones. These are timeless colors that make the perfect backdrop for highlighting outdoor artwork, textiles such as pillows, and other exciting colorful accessories. And, remember to group furniture pieces creating several types of spaces for dining, intimate conversation spots, and seating areas for larger parties. If you have a special focal point in nature, don’t forget to arrange a seating area so this can be enjoyed to its fullest. If you’re lucky enough to have panoramic ocean or lake views, arrange one seating area so it completely enjoys this scenic vista.
Regarding color - vibrant colors have really made a comeback and add a tremendous amount of personality to any space both indoors and out. So, choose three to four colors for your scheme and have fun! Rich reds, bold oranges, vivid blues or garden-inspired greens all offer personality. Then, pair up some plants and flowers native to your area for easy maintenance. Select matching or contrasting colors and you’ll have an outdoor area that exudes your own personal style.
Last, don’t forget to incorporate lighting that highlights all the amazing features and design ideas you have added to your outdoor refuge. Not only will “lightscaping” call attention to a focal point like a water feature, it can designate a space. For example, a chandelier can spotlight a special dining spot, or a unique side table lamp will make an intimate outdoor space even more cozy and comfortable.
Don’t let another season go by without finding a way to smoothly transition your indoor and outdoor spaces into something truly spectacular. Use some or all of these great outdoor design trends to provide a year-round outdoor oasis that creates a sanctuary for your senses just steps from your home’s interior spaces.
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