Enhancing Your Outdoor Living Space

Enhancing Your Outdoor Living Space

Making a few creative adjustments can enhance your outdoor living space.

Many of us take pride in our homes, investing countless hours rearranging and remodeling the interior. But it can also be refreshing to step out of the confines of the inside and spend some time outside. It’s especially enjoyable during the spring, summer and fall months. When the weather is favorable, it’s difficult to miss out on a nice day outside.

But spending time outside doesn’t mean you have to forfeit your creature comforts. With a few small adjustments you can make your outdoor space comfortable and inviting. Turning a yard, patio, porch or other outdoor area into a functional living space can be a rewarding task, and will expand your living space to the outdoors. With the right setup, you can spend more time in the sunshine and fresh air, and host events al fresco for friends, family and neighbors. Read on to learn 10 ideas for outdoor living spaces, whether it’s for the front yard, the back yard or both.

Colorful Adirondack chairs will add a pop of personality to an outdoor space.

Earth tones might look nice in your living room, but in the outdoors they’ll shrink and blend in with the surroundings. And although black tends to be chic and stylish inside the home, black furniture will become very hot in dire sunlight. To complement the greens and browns of the outdoors, you can add a splash of whimsy by choosing bold, brightly colored accessories. For a touch of excitement, you might consider swapping out those faded cushions on your outdoor furniture for bold and colorful ones. Bright blue, red and yellow Adirondack chairs or a pink picnic table might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea — and indeed those colors might be a bit overwhelming inside the home — but outside they’ll add an element of playfulness and fun. Some other options for colorful accessories could include a brightly patterned hammock or Chinese paper lanterns.

For some ideas for how to brighten your outdoor space after dark, read on.

The right lighting can add drama and romance, and create a soft glow outdoors.

The holidays aren’t the only time to string up some lights in your outdoor spaces. In the warmer months, spending time outdoors isn’t limited to the daylight hours, so you’ll want to set the mood with some tasteful and dramatic outdoor lighting. Effective lighting can make your outdoor living space safer, because it’ll help to prevent people from tripping in the dark, but it can also help to transform your yard or deck into an inviting place to spend time after the sun goes down.

Good landscape and deck lighting can accent the assets of your outdoor space, while allowing the less attractive elements to fade into the shadows. These days, most outdoor lighting comes from electric bulbs, but for a softer glow, you might consider adding lanterns or torches into the mix. As a general rule, lighting around the outside of a house that is pointed upward can dramatically accent the architecture of the structure, while light pointed downward will create a softer, cozier glow.

Outdoor kitchens are the ultimate for those who like to entertain.

The kitchen is the heart of any home, so it should follow that outdoor kitchens would be where the action is in any outdoor living space. Creating a second kitchen won’t just save you from constantly making trips back and forth between the grill and the indoor stove or refrigerator; it’ll also create a great space for entertaining. Whether it’s in the back yard in the suburbs or on a rooftop in the city, outdoor kitchens have grown in popularity because cooking al fresco feels less like a chore and instead more of a pleasure.

The grill is typically at the center of any outdoor kitchen, but with the right setup you can do much more than cook steaks in your outdoor space. In addition to a grill, you can build your open-air kitchen around a refrigerator, sink, food prep areas, or even a wood-fired pizza oven. Another key ingredient to any outdoor kitchen is seating, which can range from standard picnic tables to a full bar complete with working beer taps.

Fire pits are perfect for adding warmth and creating a spot for family and friends to gather.

Controlling fire is what helped define humans and separate us from other animal species, and fire still captivates us. Adding an element of fire can instantly transform an otherwise ordinary space into one that is inviting and warm. A backyard fire is just the thing to keep you outside on cool summer nights, and it can be a nice winter feature in more mild climates.

A backyard fire can be as cheap and basic as a hole in the ground, or it can be as elaborate as a marble gas fireplace. For urban communities there are portable fire pit, which is an elevated fire bowl with a screen that can be used in a variety of spaces. There are fire pits using anything from bricks to flagstones. Another popular and attractive option is the chiminea, which is an outdoor fireplace that has a short chimney. Whatever type of fir pit or fireplace you choose, it’s a good idea to look up local fire codes and to make sure it’s legal to have an open fire in your town before lighting one in your yard.

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