3 Tips to Design an Outdoor Living Space

3 Tips to Design an Outdoor Living Space

Anywhere in the country, the change to warmer weather is certainly a welcome one! During the advent of Spring here in Southern California, we definitely begin using our patio furniture more as we begin migrating to our outdoor living areas. In our household, we truly enjoy time with friends on the patio as well as time to decompress and enjoy the fresh air! Our outdoor living area is relatively small, compared to some here in coastal California, however that doesn’t stop us from living elegantly in it and enjoying the fact that we have more space to use and spread out. The best benefit of our outdoor space is that we are able to enjoy time to ourselves to relax on the and unwind, while being able to smell the blooming flowers, hear the birds chirp and watch the ducks fly overhead to their evening roost. Our outdoor living space is adjacent to our living room and it’s easy to step outside and enjoy an adult beverage with friends or turn on the fire pit and enjoy the moonrise.

There are several key factors when designing your outdoor living area. First, choose a spot that is located adjacent to your home, ideally. This will prevent you from making a long walk back and forth when you are bringing out food or have forgotten something inside. It’s easier and more convenient for guests to access, as well.

Second, think about what you need in your outdoor living area and what you will actually use. Yes, you may want a wine fridge that chills 20 bottles, however consider whether you will entertain enough to use it. At the very least, you will need seating and a place to set down a drink, laptop or book.

If you entertain, you’ll need space to set up food and drinks and put out utensils, as well as space that allows guests to sit comfortably and converse without being too close or too far away from each other. Ideally, people feel comfortable with a distance of 2 feet to 5 feet apart for a conversation, without feeling as if they need to shout to be heard or that they’re being crowded. You’ll also need enough space for guests to move around, open doors or the fridge and access any food or drinks.

Third, form always follows function, so choose a layout and furnishings that work well. Take into consideration how many people will use the outdoor space, what you will use it for and how often you will use it. If you don’t entertain large groups, you likely don’t need that large sofa and 4 coordinating chairs that look amazing in the showroom! If you will use the outdoor living area mainly for family dinners, consider a dining table and chairs that don’t overwhelm the space and that allow you to comfortably move around it, with food trays or dishes in hand. Above all, everyone’s comfort is key! If you plan to cook or grill in your outdoor living space, it’s best to put the stove or barbeque away from the area where guests will sit, to avoid any smoke or smells enveloping them while they’re visiting with each other.

Nicole Cavanaugh, IIDA, is the Director of Design at Cavanaugh Design Group and a published author who is committed to helping homeowners solve their interior design issues and live a better life through interior design. To begin designing your ideal interiors and living your best life by design now, go to http://www.cdgdesign.com/blog and download her F.R.E.E. tip sheets.

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