We’re always looking to make our spaces more functional, as well as more beautiful. Here’s my top tips for how to cater to your overall goals when it comes to picking out new additions for your outdoor area.
For the entertainers
Craft private spaces and perfect lighting
If you have a larger yard to work with, look into making part of the garden bed a seating area. You can cover the soil in that space with pebbles and add a bench or two to offset a smaller space for when larger outdoor parties break apart into private conversations. I love the idea of adding a water feature in this area to give guests a visual interest as well as the sounds of peaceful water flow.
Keep it light
While before we could just meander indoors when the sun went down, people are now sticking to the outside even after sunlight hours for the safety of fresh air. If you’re a fan of outdoor bars, you might know what makes or breaks this space without having consciously identifying it: light. Placing outdoor lighting around your patio will keep things feeling warm and inviting even after the sun says goodnight.
When considering light, you don’t want to go too bright. Go for “warmer” or “yellow” light, as it is perceived as more inviting. The bulbs’ box will show this on a color spectrum. The more the marker veers toward the yellow side, the “warmer” the light. The more “blue,” the cooler the light.
A trend I’m loving is “uplighting” on beautiful plants. These outdoor lights sit on the ground and cast light upward onto your plants and bushes. For higher up lighting, you want to focus the lights on the prettier parts of your patio. Place light sources near gorgeous wrapping vines or shine light on your patio furniture. (Try to avoid emphasizing empty space or areas near the garden hose).
Materials List:Pebbles, bench, small water feature or table. Exciting lighting with “golden light.”
For family gatherings that appeal to all ages
If you’re looking to make an investment in your patio, a brick oven is where it’s at. This is a super-fun novelty item that you and your guests will love. It also makes entertaining super easy: just bring the toppings! The real question is: pineapple, or no pineapple? The debate continues!
If your patio has columns or posts, you can easily set up a movie screen. Choose a colorful patio rug, throw down a bunch of comfy throw pillows and blankets, and settle in!
Get Your Game On (play time!)
Outdoor games aren’t just for kids. Go ahead and buy that giant Jenga game or the life-size Connect 4. For those of you who love to build, check out how you can make your own outdoor bowling alley (that doesn’t require constant pin replacing between rounds). Have a volleyball net? String Christmas lights through the netting so you can bump, set, and spike it through the evening hours.
Materials List:Brick oven, canvas sheet and bungee cords, pillows and patio rug. Outdoor games.
For the work-from-homers who want more Vitamin D
Get your Zoom background on point.
If you decide to make the move outside, you’ll obviously be settling into some patio furniture… which can make your posture go out the window. Consider buying an inflatable back support cushion specifically made for ergonomic help (many have Velcro attachments to go around the back of the chair).
Throw Some Shade
Laptop glare is the No.1 reason people try – and fail – to work outdoors. However, with a well-placed umbrella, you can ward off this issue. I recommend a “tilt-able” umbrella, so you can move the shade as the sun makes its way across the sky.
For the Zoom
For those with virtual meetings, you can add some interest to your background by mounting fold-down shelving to the outside of your home and frequently mixing up different flowerpots and trinkets.
For the person who got that new cocktail shaker set:
It’s time to play bartender
Set the bar
You can have an amazing outdoor bar without breaking the bank. There are so manyways to DIY your own bar station. From a simple drop-down bar to refurbishing an old hutch, you can build or thrift anything you need without too much trouble.
Speak up, please!
Outdoor speakers are fairly inexpensive and can double as decorative items. Some even look just like lanterns, which can really elevate your outdoor vibes.
Fill your space with natural fibers and native plants.
Pick your plant life
You can establish an oasis in any amount of space, even if you’re dealing with a tiny apartment balcony. The goal here is to choose plants that work together visually. If you think of a place like a forest or jungle, you see a variety of plants ranging from trees to moss covering pieces of the ground. By looking for ways to emulate this “wall of green,” while providing contrasting texture, is a fantastic way to spruce up your space and add depth. Then, you can work on incorporating color with flowers and furniture.
Note: Using “native plants” to your region is not only great for the environment, but it also encourages little visitors like local birds and butterflies! Additionally, growing your own fruits and veggies is a great way to find your oasis. I love the idea of letting the vines of these plants climb up a trellis to add a vertical dimension (and additional privacy) to a patio space.
Use natural fibers
Add a few woven accents to amp up the nature vibes. Roll out your yoga mat, and you’re ready to get in the Zen zone.
For our northern neighbors, I know springtime doesn’t always mean warm, comfortable weather. Outdoor heaters, fire pits, and heat lamps are the way to go. Here’s some DIY fire pits that will have you grabbing the marshmallows!
Heavy blankets and padded patio furniture are your allies when it comes to staying cozy outdoors. When selecting your outdoor blankets, look for large, thick, and tightly knit (this probably isn’t the time for crocheted patterns).
Materials List:Fire pit or outdoor heater, patio cushions, heavy blankets.
For the places where “Spring” means scalding
Ward off the heat… and the pests.
The southern half of the country is heating up… quick, and pulling their tank tops out of hibernation. When it comes to cooling, fans and retractable shades are the way to go. Looking to make a little less of an investment? You can find less-pricey patio tables that have space for an umbrella in the middle. Shade makes a huge difference when it comes to your outdoor experience, and even a small oasis under an umbrella can help you keep the good [outdoor] times rolling… without a ton of sweating.
Unfortunately, we aren’t the only ones loving the warm weather. And sometimes, those citronella candles just don’t do the trick. A drop-down mosquito net can help you maintain your patio space as the comfortable getaway it’s meant to be.