Here’s me: I’m flipping through the channels with one of the three remotes, while holding one of the others so I can toggle the mute button on the off chance something less than totally annoying comes on the screen. 5 million channels and nothing on. Isn’t there a song about this?
Then I pass a landscaping show. You know the ones. Someone lucked out somehow and an expert crew shows up to give them a backyard makeover, elapsed time not to exceed 90 minutes. I always stop on these. I’m a junky for outdoor spaces. Love ‘em. Need ‘em. Can’t live without ‘em.
Over the years, I’ve picked up a few secrets to making outdoor spaces rock your world. Here are the top five:
1. Begin with the end in mind.
Outdoor projects are no different than other major remodeling projects in that the very best outcomes are a result of an overall master plan.
You want to think through your long range plan before you start any part of the project. This way, eventually, your dreams are realized and you’ve got a stunning landscape to be proud of.
When you don’t do the planning first, your perfect walkway or flowerbed today, could be right where you don’t want it when you’re ready to build that grill-meister command center you know you want.
2. Consider outdoor spaces as rooms.
This is no novel concept and you’ve probably heard it before, but it’s so super important that you can’t hear it too much. When you work on that master plan, create a “floor plan” of outdoor spaces and include the house and the floorplan of the house too.
All of your rooms, indoors and out, should have the ever-important element of “flow” between the spaces.
Thinking of your outdoor spaces as rooms also forces you to consider the functionality of each space. Indoors, each room has a main purpose. Sleeping, cooking, working, playing, storage, etc. Awesome outdoor space designs work the same way.
3. Mix your choice of outdoor wall materials.
Outdoor spaces have this huge advantage in that the “walls” or the design element that separates unique spaces don’t have to be totally solid, go to a certain height, or be secure. They just have to create a barrier, both visual and physical, between the outdoor rooms.
This gives you sublime design flexibility. You can use short brick walls, thick vegetation such as bamboo, creative and beautiful fencing, hedges, whatever!
By mixing different materials acting as the “walls” of your outdoor spaces, you take away any feeling of being in an actual room. You create a natural environment that looks like it just grew that way.
4. Keep line of sight in mind and provide for “windows”.
The real key to crazy goodness is the intriguing window into another space. It’s the predetermined design that allows you to stand in the living room of the house, look out through the window, through one, two, or more outdoor spaces, and have your eye fall on a focal point at the end of your view.
If you’re working in a space that’s blessed with natural focal points, such as huge trees or a particular view, then you can design around that. If not, you can create something in your design. Maybe a potting shed, or a special sitting area. Design with lines of site from various angles, especially from the house, in mind.
5. Design it for yourself. Build it for your life.
I’ve seen people build huge outdoor kitchens, even though they never cook at home. I’ve seen rose gardens planted for folks who practically live on the road.
The most important thing you can do when designing and building an outdoor wonderland is to really think about how you want to use it. If you love the look of a potting shed, but know you won’t have time to do any potting, build it with that look but make it an art studio, or a little shack to take a nap in, or even storage.
If you make it as a potting shed, fill it with potting stuff, and never do any potting, you’ll be frustrated with it and you won’t love it the way you should. (photo above from a great post on outdoor rooms at TheInspiredRoom.net)
For me, this would mean that I shouldn’t build a big-ole outdoor kitchen with a huge gas grill. I love to cook on a charcoal grill. I could spend thousands of dollars on a perfect outdoor kitchen and literally walk around to the yard behind it and cook on a $100 charcoal grill. That would be kind of silly!
Begin with the end in mind
Think of spaces as outdoor rooms
Keep it natural looking by mixing materials
Design for focal points
Think it through, design it for you, and build the outdoors of your dreams!
Did I miss something? What lessons have you learned in designing and creating exterior spaces? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Check out more outdoor spaces here on RemodelingGuy.net in our Outdoor Living Category