Maybe you've said it before, but this really could be the year you turn your deck or patio into a true outdoor living space! As with any job, creating an outdoor room that looks beautiful and functions well takes a bit of planning and preparation. So don't buy that gorgeous outdoor dining set just yet! First, take the time to make a plan, and your backyard may soon become everyone's favorite room "in" the house.
Where to Begin with Planning Your Outdoor Living Space
Set a Budget
Built-in grills, outdoor refrigerators and flagstone patios are beautiful, but the price for these high-end items can quickly add up. If you don't plan on spending several thousands of dollars on your outdoor room, it will be necessary to prioritize your needs. Take a look at your space and decide which changes are most needed to create the kind of space you're dreaming of.
Safety is a priority no matter what the budget. Before doing anything else, plan to repair any structural or accessibility problems that may be compromising the safe use of the space.
How do you intend on using your outdoor space? Take an honest assessment of your lifestyle and needs. You may love the idea of having a romantic island getaway in your own backyard, but if your reality is cooking hotdogs and hamburgers for big family get-togethers, that sweet little space for two won't actually be too functional. If it doesn't meet your needs, instead of becoming everyone's favorite place to gather, your deck or patio will become “that fancy room that no one uses”.
The Function of Furniture
Even a small deck can serve more than one function with the right furniture selection. We actually have a great article on buying outdoor furniture if you're at this step! The key is to select pieces that are the right scale for your space. For most entertaining, a dining table, a conversation area and a cooking area are the three main zones that are required. Use an outdoor rug to help define areas even if furniture must be placed close together.
If space allows, extras like fire pits and lounge chairs are a nice touch, but it’s more important to have adequate, comfortable seating with a side table or two for holding refreshments. When it comes to furniture placement remember, there’s nothing inviting about a guest’s chair falling off the edge of the deck or sitting with your face inches from a smoky grill. Place furniture away from steps and rail-less edges to allow safe movement around the outdoor room.
Shrubs, dwarf trees, climbing plants, potted plants, and trellises can go a long way to create privacy in a not-so-private backyard. Before positioning the hot tub or arranging deck furniture, think about the view from your neighbor's yard. Plan ahead to build new structures or plant a living privacy screen.
Just like indoor rooms, outdoor rooms require occasional dusting, sweeping, and cob-web removal. Limiting accessories and using only outdoor-safe fabrics will help keep maintenance to a minimum. The use of awnings, umbrellas or a simple portico of some kind will help reduce the amount of debris that litters your space.
One More Thing
The last thing to consider is how much of the project can you complete yourself. For a major makeover, you may need to hire a contractor or a professional handyman. However, most of the projects needed to complete an average patio makeover can be completed by a willing DIY enthusiast. Once you've set a budget and prioritized a plan, the rest of the job will seem easy!
For more tips on your home and outdoor spaces, explore the Home Channel TV blog!