Create the Most Inviting Outdoor Space
June 26, 2020
No matter how big or small a home, terraces, porches, or backyards are skyrocketing in importance to buyers and owners. After sheltering in place from the COVID-19 pandemic, more homeowners are looking to extend their spaces to the outdoors. House hunters may be putting more weight on listings that have a yard with cozier spaces too.
Designers say the outdoor space should be thought of as another room in the house, and one that needs to be furnished and decorated accordingly.
Determine the function. Will the outdoor space serve as a dining area or lounging spot? If you have limited space, focus on its main purpose. For a terrace used for al fresco dining, add chairs and a table. For a casual lounging space, add sofas and low tables. If it’s a place for solitude, you’ll want to add some barriers for privacy and possibly just a single chaise longue, Charlotte Moss, a designer in New York, told The New York Times. If the space is large enough, designate different zones in the yard to accommodate the different functions, but don’t cram every possible function into one space.
Get the right flow. Look to a home’s interior decorating style for inspiration on how to decorate the outside. To bridge the gap between the home’s indoors and outdoors, tie in similar colors, materials, and decorating styles. For example, if a home uses soft pale colors inside, mix that same color scheme outside in the fabric furnishing choices and throughout the landscaping with softer colors. “I try to blend the materials and make them all uniform so that you don’t have anything super jarring, and it’s all very harmonious,” Scott Shrader, a landscape designer and author of The Art of Outdoor Living, says.
Pay attention to the flooring. Note the flooring where the furniture will be placed. Use outdoor rugs to make spaces feel cozier outside or a large expanse of pavers to dress up the flooring. Keith Williams, a partner at Nievera Williams and author of The Graphic Garden, told The New York Times that he will choose an area outdoors that is lush enough to resemble carpeting and crisscross lines of black pebbles and diamond-shaped patches of synthetic grass.
Watch overhead. “Everybody feels most comfortable when they’re tucked under something,” Shrader told The New York Times. He likes to use existing trees as outdoor ceilings. Follow his lead and create cozy spots under a large tree. Or, if a tree isn’t available, consider adding a trellis over a seating arrangement, or even an umbrella. Tall plantings around the perimeter of the outdoor space can also offer a greater sense of privacy—even a three-foot hedge that defines the space could suffice.
Updated: May 24, 2022