Designing An Outdoor Space That’s Best Set Up For You

Designing An Outdoor Space

For even the savviest of home decorators, creating a well-appointed outdoor space can pose a challenge. It’s often an undefined space with no walls or hard boundaries, and the design has to contend with the elements (not to mention birds and bugs). It’s a lot to consider.

But the key to designing a successful outdoor space, according to interior designer Diana Apgar of Decorating Den Interiors, a network of individually owned and operated interior design franchises throughout the U.S. and Canada, is actually quite simple: Approach it the same way you would any room in the house from canvas art to water fountains.

That means consider your wants and needs for the space, sketch out a floor plan, and choose a color palette and style that complements the adjacent spaces. In this case, that would be the exterior of a home and surrounding landscape.

But one person’s dream backyard may be another’s high-maintenance nightmare. To ensure that yours is truly an oasis for you, the most important factor to consider is use. Whether you plan to host weekly socially distant dinners or want to start a vegetable garden, here’s what to keep in mind when building your outdoor space.

For the entertainer

Seating is the most important ingredient when it comes to creating a comfortable place to entertain (a host’s best trick is to seemingly conjure extra chairs from nothing). Consider how often you plan to have people over and how many you’ll need seats for, and whether you’re gathering around a dining table, a fire pit, or in a more relaxed lounge area.

For the growing family

When designing for a family, Frazier first considers the age of the children. Then, it’s about how the outdoor space will be able to evolve as they grow older (and their parents’ need to watch them changes).

For the gardener

Plants are crucial for any outdoor area, but if you want to make them the focus, there’s more to it than just throwing a few heirloom tomato seedlings in the ground.

While understanding the light conditions and maintenance that something like a vegetable garden requires are obviously key to a successful harvest, you have to start with the square footage.

For the budget-conscious

If cost is a concern, Apgar and Frazier agree that the top priority should be high-quality furniture. “A lot of people don’t want to spend a lot of money on outdoor pieces, but you need to because it falls apart so easily when exposed to the elements,” says Apgar.

For a small space

When real estate is limited, balancing how the space will be used with what will actually fit is paramount. Frazier says to always take measurements of a small area you want to furnish to avoid disappointment.

Start with your largest, can’t-live-without piece of furniture first, and then see what else fits. For example, if you add a six-person dining table, you discover that you have no room for an herb garden along the wall. Or you may have to sacrifice the chaise lounge if you also want a bar top and room to grill.

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