Spring is the season for all things alfresco. Is your patio ready for all the sunshine headed your way? From traditional backyard decks to rustic garden patios to micro-sized urban balconies, here’s how to make the most of your outdoor space.
PERFECT YOUR PLANS BEFORE PURCHASING FURNITURE
Begin by considering how you use your outdoor area. Do you need a large grill or outdoor kitchen space to cover your summer barbecue plans? Do you host lively summer parties, or is the backyard more of a quiet zone for relaxing? Though you may want to prioritize either the dining or lounging aspect of the patio, deck or yard, you should aim to create a space that is ultimately multifunctional.
Before you begin to shop for furniture, gather measurements and square footage of the space. Then, decide how you will divide the areas — allot space for lounging, dining, storage and the garden. Take those rough measurement ideas into account when sizing furniture and rugs to ensure you don’t overcrowd the area with furniture.
SAVE SPACE WITH THE RIGHT FURNITURE SHAPE
The number one tip for choosing furniture is to coordinate with the shape of the area. For instance, a round dining table makes the best use of space on a round deck because it doesn’t leave nooks and corners that go unused. Bistro-style round tables and chairs tend to save more space than their rectangular counterparts, as pedestal bases have a smaller footprint than traditional dining tables.
Don’t fear square tables, though. They can help maximize your use of narrow areas, such as the asymmetrical end of a patio or the area between your house and your neighbors. Arrange pub tables or the dining table against the side of the house or deck rail so it doesn’t monopolize the space. If you’re hosting a small family dinner or just a couple of guests, stow the dining chairs or bench on the wall side to open up the area.
Still strapped for room? Skip the planters and rely on vertical decor such as wall-mounted vases, wreaths and tealight holders. If you’ve chosen only small-scale round furniture for your patio, add variety to the configuration with a selection of spare square pouf seating that can be easily moved out of the way.
CREATE SEPARATE AREAS FOR A VARIETY OF OPTIONS
Through strategic use of outdoor accessories, you can easily create the illusion of separate “rooms” without having to truly segment the space. For example, rugs visually divide the deck when placed under one set of furniture. Arrange seating in the lounge area around a patterned rug, creating a closed-off semicircle or horseshoe shape for a conversation corner. The rug helps anchor the furniture and ties the space together. Place small rugs under the coffee table, not touching any of the furniture legs. Bigger rugs should be arranged under both the coffee table and at least the two front legs of all chairs and sofas in the area. In this living room layout, floor poufs and ottomans should ideally be touching the rug in some way, too, to keep the space visually undivided.
To create a clear cutoff between lounging and dining zones, line the back of the sofa up to one side of the dining table, pushing the dining bench beneath or stowing spare chairs in the shed. This arrangement allows the dining space to feel like its own room.
For another room divider idea, line up a row of planters between each area of the patio, leaving a “doorway” in between either side that leads guests from section to section. Playing with sun and shade also creates distinct “rooms.” Assuming most of us want to stay cool while we sip fresh spritzers and nibble on goodies straight from the grill, it’s a good idea to install umbrellas over the bistro area, clearly separating it from the sunny sitting spots.
USE MULTIFUNCTIONAL PIECES FOR A VERSATILE SPACE
Do you find yourself consistently hosting alfresco fêtes from Memorial Day through Labor Day? Since there are so many reasons to celebrate throughout the outdoor season, you’ll need a dining area for your barbecues, dinner parties and cocktail hours during the summer. Create an outdoor kitchen that doubles as a lounge area by incorporating versatile furniture with sneaky storage for conversion. Dining benches with backs, for instance, become casual outdoor sofas with the right number of plush cushions and seat pads, lumbar pillows for the back, and square throw pillows for arms and corners. In storage benches or coffee tables, stow spare pillows and blankets, electronics such as portable outdoor speakers and flameless candles, and even table linens.
For the ultimate in versatility, set up one single patio area that you can use as both a dining room and a sitting room. With the grill, outdoor bar and food prep table set up in the back corner, arrange a semicircular sitting area, placing one side table between each seat. To encourage guests to sit down with cocktails and small bites, keep tabletop decor minimal — small potted plants complete the look and still leave space for plates and drinking glasses. In this layout, durable, stain-resistant patio furniture is a must, as well as a rug designed for high-traffic surfaces.
DECORATE WITH CARE
No matter the size of your space, there’s always room for accessories. In fact, narrow balconies and decks benefit from a little additional decor — extra time, care, color and pattern pump supersized personality into small spaces. Choose vases, wall hangings and lighting in styles similar to what you would choose for your interior rooms, making the backyard feel like a true extension of the home.
One foolproof tip for decorating outdoors is to go vertical whenever possible. For example, wall sconces and overhead flush mounts leave no footprint on floors or tabletops, unlike table and floor lamps. Overhead lighting may only work if your patio is covered by an overhang or ceiling extending from the house. String lights, however, can be used with almost any outdoor layout. On either side of the patio, securely install hooks at stable mounting points—trees, posts, stakes, the side of the house or even the garage. Zig-zag lights across the yard to set the mood for an ethereal after-dark oasis.
As for plant decor, use oversized floor vases housing ferns and small trees to add life to empty nooks and crannies too small for furniture. No floor space for flowers? Draw the eyes upward with outdoor-approved wall vases and planters. For dinner parties, forgo visually weighty traditional centerpieces. Place fresh blooms in delicate glass vases all along the side of the house, as well as up and down the railing of the deck. Keep the walls fresh and green all season long with herb and succulent micro-gardens in sturdy wall planters.
Balance is key when decorating outdoor spaces. Look for furniture that’s proportional to the available square footage, and then choose decor that complements the furniture and layout you’ve chosen. The possibilities for summer fun are endless when you create an outdoor space that’s as cool and comfortable as the inside of your home.
Hannah Bollman writes inspirational and informational content around home design and entertaining for Crate and Barrel, where you can find outdoor furnishings for any space. In her spare time, Hannah enjoys performing stand-up comedy in Chicago and working to improve her 5K time.
Source : https://www.twincities.com/2018/04/20/maximize-your-outdoor-space-layout-is-everything/