Summer days call for long warm evenings in the garden with friends and family, chilled drink in hand, something tasty sizzling on the grill. But lounging outdoors doesn’t have to be a summer thing. A few well-chosen updates to your outdoor space could allow you to enjoy your garden all year round.
Interior designers agree that when decorating indoor space, earthy hues offer one way to bring the outdoors in. But when it comes to crafting your ideal outdoor living space, those earthy browns and greens tend to blend in with the environs, camo-style. Favour a bold colour palette to introduce an element of fun to your outdoor space. Choose colours that will complement the natural hues of the outdoors while adding a playful feel which is welcoming to both adults and children. Colourful garden furniture, hammocks or even bold picnic blankets create a homely, unfussy look. And don’t think that you need to fully reupholster your outdoor furniture to refresh your entertainment area—switching your old throw cushions for some bold colourful ones will do the trick nicely.
Bold colours are fun and vibey when the sun’s out, what about after sunset? Time to get magical with candles, lanterns and strings of glowing fairy-lights. Whatever lighting solution you choose, illuminating the space will create an inviting atmosphere your guests will love. (And the more cautious host will appreciate the added safety, as people are less likely to trip over things when they can see where they’re going.) Outdoor lighting also lets you highlight the parts of your outdoor area that you want to bring to the fore, while allowing other things to recede into the dark. For example, string some lights up in that blossoming cherry tree, and let that garden bed you didn’t get around to weeding vanish into the shadows. While electric bulbs are most commonly used for outdoor lights, you’ll want to go for a LED light or low wattage bulb for a softer, warmer glow. If you’re up for old-school lighting, torches or lanterns add extra drama and romance, but you do need to keep an eye on them, and keep a fire extinguisher handy! You can also use lighting to draw attention to architectural elements of your home by aiming your lights up the walls to create height, or downwards for a more intimate feel.
Hosting outdoor events can be extremely stressful if you’re totally at the mercy of the weather. Without good coverage options, many a promising BBQ has been cancelled at the last minute or spoiled by everyone having to run indoors. Proving sturdy and spacious shelter from the sun and rain in the form of flat roof patios or pagodas means you won’t need the weatherman to sign off on your plans before you start inviting your friends for an outdoor gathering. Even when it’s just you and the family at home, a covered outdoor area gives you the freedom to move in and out of doors whenever you feel like a change. Whatever you plan to use the area for, whether it’s outdoor family dinners or reading your book in the afternoons, go for comfortable, versatile seats, which you can re-arrange accordingly. Another great benefit of a covered outdoor space is that you can use your electronics outside without worrying about rain or direct sun. Make sure your covered outdoor space is equipped with extra wifi antenna to boost your coverage, and you might like to invest in a good set of bluetooth or wireless speakers. Depending on the occasion, playing music outside can create a fun party atmosphere or a more chilled-out mood.
Lawn (and Pool) Love
When it comes to creating a stylish outdoor living area, the devil is in the details. Even if you’ve lovingly crafted your outdoor space with comfortable furniture and amazing lighting, a shabby lawn or green swimming pool can really spoil the effect. To avoid an impression of overall neglect, it’s worth putting in the extra effort to stay on top of your lawn and pool. If you’re caring for your lawn yourself, investigate proper lawn care procedures, but if it’s gotten a little out of hand, it never hurts to hire an expert gardener to give your lawn a head start in life. Same goes for your swimming pool: don’t wait until your guest’s child asks if they can go fishing in there before you get the chlorine kit out. Keep the water clear by monitoring salt or chlorine levels, and if necessary, call in a pro to diagnose and correct imbalances.
While week-night cooking can be a drag, cooking out of doors feels more like a leisure activity than a chore, and nothing says dining ‘al fresco’ like actually cooking outside. From back-yard pizza ovens to urban roof-top eateries, outdoor kitchen spaces have become wildly popular in recent times. If you’re keen to jump on the trend but you find the construction work daunting, don’t think you need everything and the kitchen sink out there. At a bare minimum, you need BBQ. The grill is where the magic happens, but there are loads of other ways to extend the functionality of your outdoor kitchen. Consider an outdoor fridge if you have a sheltered area, and a sink and counter area for chopping and assembly. A pizza oven is always a hit, of course. And don’t forget to give careful thought to seating. Sturdy picnic-style tables work well if you have the lawn space, and picnic blankets with plenty of cushions will create a relaxed feel. Not only will building an outdoor kitchen create a fun focal point for your garden entertainment area, but you’ll be saved a lot of back-and-forth between the BBQ and your indoor kitchen.
Whether you want to host Great Gatsby-worthy outdoor parties or enjoy some sunny alone time, these tips should help you create the outdoor space of your dreams.