Layout. Courtesy photo
Lighting. Courtesy photo
By SUZETTE FOX
Entertaining is a very personal thing. This is why a designer must consider an outdoor space with the client’s idea of entertaining in mind, the available space and the budget to make it happen. However, there are general considerations I can offer to create a yard that will suit your entertaining needs.
And, as a bonus, creating a relaxing, stylish outdoor living space can greatly increase the appeal and value of your home.
Overall Design and Purpose
Essentially an outdoor space is treated the same as an indoor — you think function first, decor second while keeping the style of your space in mind. You most likely will need an entertainment area, cooking area and dining area. Some of you will want a garden that might include vegetables, play area for kids, dog run and/or pet area.
This will depend on what activities you want to happen and the size of your property.
Whether your outdoor room is small and intimate or large and spacious, you’ll want to create zones to separate various activities such as cooking, conversation and relaxation while allowing for good traffic flow throughout the space.
Sketch a plan. A plan provides a birds-eye view of your overall project, which can then be implemented logically in steps. Choose building materials to complement the color and style of your house. Create a room with a view by positioning seating areas to overlook flowerbeds, water features and other attractive scenery.
This is your outdoor living room. Bring color and comfort to your backyard with furnishings like an outdoor sectional or love seat and chairs and an ottoman. Accessorize with an outdoor rug, pillows, coffee table and end table(s). Stick with the same color scheme as your interiors for a cohesive look, and make guests feel at home by creating different lounging zones.
Your entertainment area might also include a fireplace or fire pit, a television or outdoor movie theater. Consider adding an outdoor sound system to take an ordinary movie and/or party to a higher level. For extra seating options, try layering outdoor blankets and poufs.
Bar = Party Central
The bar can be ground zero for outdoor entertaining. This is not just a place to store bottles and mixers, but it becomes a social hub if the host is on one side making drinks and guests are on the other side of the bar lounging. Designing a place for a bar or having a bar cart nearby ensures guests will be happy and elevates your ‘cool factor’ as a host/hostess.
Just as the kitchen is the center of the home, your outdoor kitchen is just as important. This might be just your grill or a full outdoor kitchen with an island that hosts a grill, smoker, refrigerator and sink. Some may be lucky enough to have an outdoor pizza oven. Regardless, your outdoor cooking area should be easily accessible from the house, located near your indoor kitchen to reduce trips back and forth.
There’s something wonderful about alfresco dining. The dining area should be close to the outdoor cooking space so dinner can go from grill to table within a few steps. A round table can seat four to six comfortably. For larger crowds, consider a rectangular table that has the capacity to expand to seat up to ten people.
What takes an outdoor space from ordinary to party ready? Ambience is really important, so consider your lighting options. I love to hang string lights and group lanterns and votive candles around my patio, especially when I’m hosting company. You can create a ‘ceiling and walls’ through your lighting, umbrella, pergola or greenery to create intimacy that is lovely for long conversations.
Parties during the day can be an active family gathering, but for most adults this is brunch, luncheon or just an impromptu get together. Cool down your backyard by adding shade with a stylish and functional shade sail. Umbrellas also offer shade and a pop of color to an otherwise bland color palette.
Before planting, be honest about your time – whether you’re a plant lover or a low-maintenance person. Native plants are wonderful to add to your landscape and better for the environment using less water and easier on you.
Above all, strive for ambiance that can transform your ordinary space into an outdoor dream. Good food and drink, lighting, music and comfortable furniture – get this right and your space can become the equivalent of an exotic evening in Burgundy or Tuscany.
Contact Los Alamos/White Rock Interior Designer Suzette Fox for help with your home.