With the absolutely perfect weather we've been having lately, I've been thinking how today's patios and porches have come a long way. When an outdoor space is thoughtfully designed, spending time there can make us feel like we are on a mini vacation.
Realistically, though, in order for us to want to hang out in our backyard, it has to be inviting. So with the warm weather finally here, I thought I would share with you some of the design tips I share with my Fairfield and Westchester clients to make your outdoor space both usable and luxurious.
First - Identify how you will be using your outdoor space.
This is an important first step to take. The way you use your backyard may have evolved over time as your family dynamic has changed and as more types of outdoor furniture and decor have become available to us.
So really take some time to evaluate WHO is going to be using the space and WHAT you will be doing? Do you like to read outside, hang with your immediate family and/or entertain larger groups? Are you planning to sun bathe, grill family dinners and dine al fresco, lounge as you would in your family room and/or convene around a fire pit in cooler weather?
Whatever it is, the quantity and types of seating will have to accommodate it. And if your space is not large enough for everything, take some time to set your priorities.
Second - Assess what you already have
In order to support your lifestyle and achieve the look you want, consider whether you need to redesign your entire space, or use some or all of the pieces you already own. Sometimes rearranging your furniture, or making some replacements or additions can make all the difference.
A great way to spruce up your space is to replace upholstery with something modern and bright. Another economical option is to swap out your throw pillows. In either case, outdoor fabrics that are sun-resistant are always the best choice for durability.There are also new foam core for cushions that are mildew and mold resistant, which we use in my workroom.
Third - Choose complimentary styles and colors
If you want that designer look, make style and color choices that are congruous with your location, your house and the environment. Shades of blue are great for a coastal setting, greens for a country-like setting and if you like brights, the colors of flowers are always a great choice. Whatever you pick, make sure it looks good against the color of your house. I also recommend that if you can view the outdoor pieces from inside your home the colors should be an extension or complementary of what is inside the home.
Think about the style of your home too. If you have a modern house and are buying new, rather than purchase Nantucket style furniture I would recommend going for something with straight lines. But remember that there are no hard and fast rules, and an eclectic mix of styles done right is always in!
Fourth - Evaluate your setting
There's nothing like nature to calm the nerves after a busy day. Whether your patio or porch faces the Sound, your pool, your lawn or a country setting, take full advantage of that.
Position lounge chairs and arrange furniture groupings so the maximum number of seats face an open view. If you don't have an expansive view, no worries...you CAN create a peaceful setting. I've seen the smallest of yards become a haven by landscaping the perimeter with tall trees and bushes and by adding borders or containers of flowering plants.
Fifth - Make your outdoors as put-together as your indoors
Frame your seating areas with an outdoor rug to make it stand out and feel intimate. Then add throws and pillows in Sunbrella fabric. If your yard is very sunny add an outdoor shade, awning or outdoor curtains for that resort-like look.
Lighting is important to consider for both usefulness and atmosphere. Hang drop lighting, and flush mounts in covered areas and in-ground and solar lighting in your yard. For fun, swap out the tops of your fence posts with a solar variety that lights up at night or add string lighting, tiki torches and lanterns with candles.
Garden stools are a smart addition in that they can be used as table space but also double for extra seating when needed. For added warmth, a chiminea is a great alternative to a fire pit especially when you have limited space or if you really want to extend the season, splurge for a patio heater.
Last but not least, finish it off by adding garden sculptures and decorative objects of a similar style.
If you take the time to go through these five steps, your reward will be a backyard porch or patio that is your own personal haven. kellydesigns is here to answer any of your questions and to help you with your upholstery and design needs anytime.
In the meantime, you will find some useful outdoor decorating tips in these blog posts too: