The Pleasures of Outdoor Living

Happy-CocooningCreating a comfortable outdoor space, beautifying your garden area, installing a poolside outdoor kitchen or even a covered outdoor living room has become a popular way to extend the livable portion of your property.  In addition, the return on investment (ROI) is generally positive as outdoor living spaces, landscaping, decks and patios can make all the difference when you’re ready to sell your home.

When I was a child, “Outdoor Living” meant playing outside while my parents sat on the front stoop visiting with the neighbors, passing time until the street lights went on and all the kids came home. That was before every house had a backyard patio or deck and leaf blowers hadn’t been invented. The focus back then was on neighborhoods and the community outside. As an adult, the popular trend was “cocooning.”

Thankfully, that time has passed and now, we’re all about connections. The cycle is back to nature, green things and community good. Along with that, people are re-discovering their backyards, gardening and the pleasures of outdoor life.

Creating separate outdoor spaces allows you to create functional, yet unique designs for each of area. The more successful you are in physically separating one outdoor living space from another, the more flexibility you have to diversify. For example, group your outdoor living furniture into conversation areas, use living screens (plants, trees, flowers) to provide privacy and think of each section as a separate outdoor room.

In a house the concept of separate “rooms” is that each unit is unique unto itself. Consequently, you can install a component in the kitchen that looks great there, without worrying that it would look out of place if viewed from the bedroom. The same is true for outdoor living spaces. Think of the structural components of outdoor living spaces in terms of their counterparts in indoor rooms: ground (floor), sky (ceiling), dividers (walls), lighting, and ambiance.

For example,

  • Floors might consist of grass, decking, pebbles or slate.
  • Walls might be man-made lattice or fencing. Or, natural, such as hedges, tall grasses or stone.
  • Ceilings might be shade sails or shade trees, arbors, umbrellas, porch ceilings or canvas canopies.
  • Lighting might combine solar accent lights with the flickering flame of a garden torch.

lake house dockIn designing your outdoor living space, you have a lot of leeway. Most of the outdoor elements are interchangeable and can be mixed and matched, depending on your needs, budget and personality. Hedges may form one wall, fencing another. Even patio sets, garden benches and other backyard furniture can be attractive and functional separators. And, while a vine-covered arbor may be more inspiring to gaze up at than a lawn umbrella, the umbrella will keep you — and the books you may be reading — dry!

Picture relaxing on an outdoor sectional with a few friends and a glass of wine… or watching the sailboats from an Adirondack chair on the dock…serving snacks to the kids from the bar set near the pool…or even two trees and a hammock — each is like its own vignette with its own emotions, memories and even scents.

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