The Art of Exterior Design
_ Refining your style and decorating your Outdoor Room
Americans love spending time outdoors and more people are treating the outdoor spaces on their properties as true extensions of their homes, turning porches, pools, patios, decks, and gardens into outdoor living spaces that serve the same functions as indoor rooms. Homeowners want to create a place in their backyard that extends their living space and capitalizes on all the outdoors has to offer, whether it’s relaxing by the pool, playing a game of volleyball with the kids, or hosting an al fresco dinner party on the patio.
The best of these living spaces breaks down the barriers between indoor and outdoor, formal and casual. Outdoor spaces have become even more full, complex, and inviting. Walls seem to disappear and interiors flow effortlessly to the outside to spaces that enhance, reward and rejuvenate. These rooms can be embellished with an ever-growing selection of products that define our tastes and serve the needs of our personal life styles.
“_ most of us have the confidence to improve the inside of our homes with a fresh coat of paint, new rugs, furniture, and fixtures. But when it comes to the outside of our most prized possession, we don’t know where to start.” states Julie Meservey in her book Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love. Begin the design process by defining the specifics of the space you wish to transform. Like our interiors, outdoor rooms are defined by entryways, walls, floors and ceilings. Whether a secluded bower or an expansive terrace or deck, attention to structural elements will give the room definition and and a sense of intimacy.
The round terrace pictured below is accessed either through sliding doors at grade level or a walkway and stairs created under one on the overhanging decks. The geometry of the design was important as it is seen “bird’s eye” view from two decks above. It is meant to be a destination site for reading and the fountain in the corner provides a soothing ambience.
Among some of most popular additions today include all-weather furniture for dining and relaxing. Your choices will reflect your decorating taste, color preference and use. Outdoor kitchens can be designed for ease of meal preparation and create the “hub” for entertaining. Fire pits have become very popular and extend the use of your outdoor room for enjoyment on cooler nights. Exterior ambient lighting adds that special aura well after dark and beautiful lanterns illuminate key areas. High tech has allowed sound systems that are remotely controlled and integrated with the system inside. Containers, sculpture and other forms of garden art further embellish much like the objets d’ art do inside your home.
Take the time to lay out your room to scale by measuring and diagraming key features. Make notes on exposure, sun location, existing features that will remain and those that can be eliminated. Creating a “mood board” is a fun way to collect ideas and conceptualize your outdoor room. Visit sites such as houzz.com, Pinterest, et. al. for inspiration. If you decide to seek out professional help in planning your dream room, seek out designers with experience in all aspects of exterior design and construction. This may save you from making costly mistakes and impetuous purchases.
Here are some of the ‘Moodboards’ I created for clients to suggest a theme with various components and plants. There is a neat little iPad application that is very easy and fun to use.
The garden below in the final construction phases prior to laying the piston gravel walk was ‘informed’ by the moldboard above shared with my client. The whole was envisioned and then the parts fit into place to create the ‘mood’ they desired in this very confined and irregular space. Open your eyes to the possibilities present in your own backyard.
The final destination was a circular little terrace on which my clients later added a low table with a built in fire pit and surrounded by comfortable chairs. The garden became a secret little hide-away for relaxation at the end of a day with views of the bay beyond and the lovely Cape Cod sunsets.
Surround yourself with the things you love. Sit back, kick off your shoes and ENJOY.