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Think of outdoor spaces as you do your indoor spaces. There much to consider when it comes to layout, design, scale, pattern and texture. The key is to really think about how you will be using this space — think in terms of creating zones.
We don’t often get asked to design outdoor spaces, however, when we do, we always love to bring in the experts. A great landscape designer can come up with an excellent plan that includes your zones and, of course, provides guidance on what to plant where. Our climate is a little challenging and enlisting an expert will ensure that you can have the best looking space that can carry on into the fall and even winter.
Zone 1: Cooking
Outdoor kitchens have become a big trend in outdoor design as of late. If you have the space for it, it’s not just about having a barbecue in your backyard anymore. Whole kitchens are being incorporated with work surfaces to make outdoor cooking easier. It makes pulling together a meal very easy, rather than going inside and out all the time.
Zone 2: Entertaining
You’ll need a space in which to entertain, whether that is a casual sitting area or a dining table. I always love to mix in a little wood when it comes to our furniture selections for exterior spaces to add warmth. Designs have come a long way and now include items that are mid-century inspired or even something a little more traditional in style. The possibilities when it comes to outdoor living furniture are endless, making it easy to unify your indoor and outdoor spaces. Prices have also really come down for outdoor furniture, especially when you are looking at the solid wood or upholstered goods, making it affordable for everyone to ensure they have a gorgeous outdoor sitting area.
Dining is another great area to incorporate into your outdoor spaces. There is nothing better than dining alfresco on those gorgeous warm summer nights. The key is to ensure that it is comfortable. Outdoor dining pieces can sometimes be made of metal and can be hard to sit on for long periods, so choose something that has some upholstered details, ensuring that you and your guests will be comfortable. Also make sure your chairs are multi-functional in that you can easily pull them around the space for ample seating. Stay away from glass tops as these get dirty very quickly and will need a wipe down every time you use them.
Zone 3: Lighting
Lighting is essential when it comes to outdoor spaces, and you need to ensure you have layered lighting. Most people don’t think about this, relying just on the exterior house lights for light. This is a big no-no. You want to ensure your whole outdoor space is lit to create a mood and ambiance.
Integrated lighting can be incorporated if you are landscaping to ensure you have your pathways and garden lit so that they glow at night. This can also be done with solar lights — just place where you need and wait for the sun to charge the lights and let your evenings be lit.
Decorative lights like outdoor festival lights are having a moment, and you are seeing them everywhere for a reason. They are so cute and provide gorgeous overhead lighting to help create ambiance when you are using your outdoor space, prolonging the time you can spend out there as well.
Zone 4: Storage
Storage is key in any space and when it comes to the outdoors, you want to ensure you are allocating some space for storage. That can be another structure such as a utilitarian shed or perhaps some furniture pieces that have lift-up lids to store cushions when it rains. What you are seeing a lot now are customizable sheds that can serve not only for storage but can be multi-functional rooms to serve as yoga retreats, extra office spaces or just another space to lounge in the outdoors when the weather is not co-operating.
All in all, we all want to take advantage of our summers and ensure we are spending as much time outdoors as possible. By creating an oasis in your outdoor space, no matter how big or small, you will want to spend more time outside. The more time you take to design your outdoor spaces, the more time you will enjoy out there, and that is always a good thing.
Alykhan Velji is the founder and principal of Alykhan Velji Designs, a residential and commercial design studio in Calgary.