Consider Function First
"If it doesn’t ultimately serve your objectives, it doesn’t matter how great your outdoor space looks," says designer Jeff Curren. "One person may want to sit quietly and read outside; another may want to garden. For those who like to entertain and cook, an outdoor kitchen can make life hospitable for both chef and guests," he says.
Keep Traffic Flowing
"A tiny backyard or limited light on a city terrace needn’t prevent you from having a beautiful garden," says designer Julian Calderon. "Wall gardens with multicolor plants that need no direct sunlight are available from garden centers or home stores," he says. Succulents, for example, are easy to grow on vertical surfaces, even in arid climates. "Or create 'walls' with arbors, trellises, room dividers or fences," adds Curren.
Cultivate a Theme
Stimulate the Senses
"Lavender, geraniums, lemongrass, eucalyptus, catnip, basil, mint and many other plants will not only add a nice touch of color close to paths and circulation areas, but they’ll also freshen the air with appealing fragrance as you and your guests brush past them," suggests Calderon. "You can also use plants to create artful swaths of color and texture. Play with just a few colors or textures for more effective impact and easy maintenance," he advises.
"Lighting is a good way to add interest and beauty to the outdoors, but it also attracts bugs!" To keep the bugs away, Calderon suggests soft yellow illumination concealed within planters or turned toward a wall. "Also, citronella candles and torches add light while chasing bugs away," he says, adding that "plants like chrysanthemums, basil, and mint also repel bugs."
"Just as with an outfit, an outdoor living space is not complete until you finish it off with a few accessories," says Curren. "But don’t overdo it here. Editing is key. Always start with a rug," advises Curren. "And don’t forget shade overhead, especially if your patio is in a sunny spot."
"Remember to go for ambience at night," says Curren. "Use a variety of types of lighting—at least three sources of light is ideal—and keep it soft and out of your eyes. You want to see the glow of light but not the light source. Consider string lights, uplights, table lamps, floor lamps, hanging fixtures—even candles. For a green solution, great solar and LED lights are available."
Let It Flow
Get Inside Out
Get the help you need for the home you want—sign up for the Bob Vila newsletter today!