Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Outdoor Living

Last week I attended a wonderful and educational two day conference on Outdoor Living at SOFA which was filled with a plethora of valuable information.  The venue was filled with designers, decorators, landscape and gardening professionals all interested in learning more about the ever growing area of Outdoor Design.    Outdoor spaces have come a long way from some folding chairs, a picnic table and hibachi.  We want to extend our time enjoying the outdoors and do it in the same comfort at our indoor spaces.  Many of the outdoor ‘rooms’ rival our indoor rooms.  Not only do these outdoor rooms add to our enjoyment but, if done well,  they add to the time we can spend outdoors.  We are so lucky to have so many options available nowadays and so many professionals who focus on this valuable added space to our homes.

Why create an outdoor space?  It can extend the time we have outdoors; it can increase the value of our homes and, add to our general wellbeing by offering a place for relaxation without the usual distractions found indoors; such as promoting communication when sitting around a fire.  We live in such a fast paced world it is just nice to venture outside and spend time doing nothing.  It becomes a retreat.

Where do we start to create this space?  To build a successful outdoor space many factors must be considered.  The very first thing to consider is how you want to use the space.  What is essential to your needs and wants? Is it for relaxing or entertaining?  How much time do you want to be outside? You then need to have a ‘space plan’ just as you would when designing your indoor space.  This helps with dividing the different outdoor rooms you will create.  Think about how you will enclose the space – fences or shrubs and how you will create privacy.   

Let’s consider the following elements -

Heating - There are many heat sources available and of course checking with your individual municipality by-laws is crucial before thinking of any type of fire.  Fireplaces, both gas and wood burning; fire pits or fire tables, electric heaters are all available.  Do you have a safe area on your property to have a live fire?

Cooking – Barbeque grills, wood-fired pizza ovens, bars, a complete outdoor kitchen which could include a refrigerator, sink, grill, storage cabinet, etc.

Seating – Do you want a place to eat and have dinner parties?  Then a table and chairs will be on your list. Do you like to relax and read outside or sunbathe? Lounge chairs and sectional seating have become very popular.  In fact some of the outdoor furniture seating arrangements are very similar to those we find inside.

Flooring – Will you have a deck or porch? Perhaps brick, stone, slate, stamped concrete. There are so many options available and depending on your property size and grade a professional will help you in making the best selection.

Landscape Materials and Plant Materials – this is where it is in your best interest to consult with the professionals on how to best add soft and hard surfaces to your property
Water – will you want a swimming pool, hot tub, pond or waterfall?

AV – Many of us want to listen to our music outside.  There are a full range of speaker options available which can actually be hidden within your plant material for a clean look. Some people desire an outdoor television which is available but, be sure to purchase one that is waterproof and has an anti-glare surface.

Shelter – will you want a covered porch, a sunshade, gazebo, sunroom or will an awning or umbrella be sufficient?

Lighting & Accessories – as is the practice for indoor decorating, the same principles hold for outdoors.  Lighting is one of the most important features for your space.  We see many types of pathway lighting and of course you can hire a landscape designer who will assist in offering you many other options.  Lighting can highlight certain features in your garden – deck, path, shrubs, fountain, pool, steps and so on.  Accessories are the fun stuff – garden sculptures, tabletop d├ęcor items, area rugs within the seating area.

By working with the professionals you can achieve a completely wonderful and useful outdoor living space.

                      Stay in touch for more information and images on outdoor living.

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