How to create a beautiful outdoor space

June 30, 2015

Turn any outdoor space into a relaxing oasis great for entertaining with these simple tips.

How to create a beautiful outdoor space

Choosing outdoor furniture

  • For small balconies or decks, it's a good idea to look at space-saving furniture. A good example is a wall-mounted folding table with a swivel-out table leg to stabilize it.
  • Stackable stools and folding balcony chairs fit into a limited space, which makes them convenient to store. This is especially important for houses with tight balconies or tight storage spaces.
  • On a small balcony, chairs with adjustable backrests are more practical than lounge chairs.
  • Multi-functional furniture makes maximum use of your space: watertight chests make convenient seats as well as storage for chair cushions and pillows, for example.
  • A canopied beach chair makes the most of a long, narrow balcony; set up lengthwise, it makes a cozy seating area as well as a windscreen. Protect it against rain and weather with a robust, weatherproof tarp.
  • Weather-resistant deck furniture is a good option for those who aren't eager to carry heavy balcony and deck furniture inside every time it rains. Garden furniture made of woven synthetic fibres looks like wicker furniture, but resists inclement weather and UV rays.
  • Hammocks or hanging chairs are more appropriate for larger patios — you need room to swing and a stand or solid beam to hang them from.
  • Big balconies or decks are ideal for sun loungers, deck chairs and clusters of sofas around an outdoor table.
  • Large outdoor spaces can be structured into "rooms" with plant pots, folding screens, raised flower beds, canvas curtains and outdoor furniture.

Think about sun protection

Most balconies, patios and decks could use some protection against sun and glare. Here are a few of the more common choices available today:

  • Parasols come in many sizes, shapes, patterns and materials — you'll get the best deals if you look for them in the fall. A parasol usually stands on a pedestal, but you can get space-saving brackets that screw onto a railing or fixtures for the wall or ceiling, which work better for small balconies.
  • Retractable awnings are fabric or vinyl shades on a permanently-mounted frame. With the help of a crank or a motor, they can be fully or partly extended, depending on your preference and the location of the sun. Installing an awning can be difficult because the frames tend to be heavy, and they must be firmly mounted. When in doubt, turn the job over to a professional.
  • Shade sails are made of a tough, sturdy cloth and secured to fastening points with cords or snap hooks. They come in standard shapes such as triangles or squares, but if you can't find the perfect one for your yard, have one custom-made to suit your needs.
  • Plants create shade as well. Tall tub plants, such as quick-growing bamboo, are a good choice. You can also plant grapevines and other greenery to climb a lattice frame or trellis, or train climbing plants up a pergola.

Create an outdoor room

Small accessories can play a big role in creating a cozy outdoor room. Create maritime flair with colours or lanterns, for example. Other ideas:

  • If you want to create a Mediterranean mood, use terracotta pots, ancient-looking sculptures or wrought-iron furniture.
  • A small pond with water lilies or a basin with floating candles contribute to a tranquil, relaxed ambience. The gentle splash of a fountain or small waterfall can have the same effect as well.
  • Bright, colourful seat cushions and incense sticks evoke Asia, as will red and gold accents — and, of course, a bamboo plant or two.
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