by Blake Herzog
Our enforced nesting in 2020 has led many to put more resources into their homes, and as the new year arrives that effort is spilling out to the yard. People want to make it more comfortable for their own use and more functional for meetups that have been relocated to the great outdoors.
This has fueled the rise of patio furniture that looks more like living room sets, new attention paid to features like lighting and flooring and making them year-round destinations, no matter how harsh some of the elements can be.
Here are some of the many ways homeowners are expanding their interior living space into backyards and front yards, which may help you to add onto your living space without building a single square foot.
This is about making the boundary between indoors and outdoors as invisible as possible. This means taking advantage of large sliding doors and reflecting your interior design motifs on the patio in furniture, flooring, lamps and lights and other accessories. Adding a speaker system for music and a TV, if your power system allows, will complete the transformation.
Patio Furniture: Natural Materials, Warm Colors
Speaking of patio furniture, part of making your patio more inviting is getting rid of unsteady, uncomfortable plastic and metal furniture, which can become especially repellent in the freezing temperatures of winter or the harsh summer sun.
The argument for using these materials has always been that they’re durable and easy to hose down when needed, but natural wood frames topped with outdoor cushions or upholstery can weather the sun’s rays without heating up and create a much comfier look.
Likewise, the whites and neutrals long favored for outdoor furnishings are being pushed aside by “warmer” shades in the orange and red spectrum, sometimes providing a contrast to the indoor living room but still working with it to create an organic, inviting whole.
Outdoor Kitchens and Bars
These were a big trend heading into 2020, and given how that year turned out it’s a certainty homeowners will continue setting up full-scale kitchens and bars with stools to make it that much easier to feed family and friends in the beauty and safety of the outdoors. Many backyards already have permanent grills installed in back, so it’s not that far of a leap to add a sink, small fridge, counter space and more amenities that would be useful by the grill anyway.
If you don’t have the space or budget to go all-out you can still create this feel by adding a table or cart to serve as a small prep station to assemble snacks and/or serve them buffet style.
When you’re expanding your space outdoors, making sure it’s comfortable and safe at night is critical for making it a true extension of your house. Small solar stake lights may not be able to do much in this regard, so consider hanging more lights in the trees or consulting an electrician about installing outdoor lights on the ground, on the side of the house or wherever else they can work to create a space all times of the day or night.
In a similar vein, making your outdoor space as accessible as possible means making it as weatherproof as possible. For winter, anything involving fire is a popular choice, as long as it’s done safely. Fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and even gas fire tables, which resemble coffee tables with a gas unit embedded into the top, are options.
Propane heaters come in all shapes and sizes, and some can be hung from the patio ceiling as an attractive feature that doesn’t have to be rolled on or off the scene according to the seasons. Retractable shades or awnings that protect from the summer sun can also keep warmth from escaping your outdoor space.