The Ultimate Guide to Building Outdoor Living Spaces

You come home from a hard day’s work—beating the deadline, dealing with office politics, squeezing your creative juices down to the last drop for that big presentation next week—and all you want to do is sit comfortably outside your house and enjoy the cool night sky. Or arrange a small get-together over the weekend, and dine with friends al fresco-style.

If this sounds appealing, then remodelling your outdoor area into a functional living space would definitely be a project you will enjoy.


Two common types of outdoor living space

A patio is one of the common choices for homeowners. It can either be an open or a covered area, and are usually paved. Hence, patios can be made of gravel, bricks, flagstones, and other materials used for paving surfaces.

The look and feel of the patio would depend on these two factors: the function of the patio and the aesthetic needs of the homeowner.

If the patio is intended for outdoor dining and other leisure activities, then it would be a good idea to build a second kitchen in it. This will be more convenient on the part of homeowners especially since outdoor dining entails doing a lot of trips from the kitchen to the patio and vice versa.

Another common type of outdoor space is a deck. Like a patio, a deck is a good way to link the house to the front or back garden. In terms of structure, a deck can be a ground-level deck or a raised deck.

While a ground-level deck is the more practical choice as it does not need railings and structural bracings, a raised-level deck will be more appreciated by those who want to achieve afully integrated outdoor living area.

What material should you use?

The material to be used is always a consideration as the pieces of furniture need to be strong enough to weather the elements as well as stand wear and tear. Weigh the pros and cons of each material type, and choose that which would fit your needs:

Wood

Pro: Wood pulls off a natural look that easily blends with the green outdoor ambiance.

Con: Wood can deteriorate when regularly exposed to harsh weather conditions.


Wrought iron

Pro: A furniture set made of wrought iron exudes a charming and romantic look. Although pieces of furniture made from this are considered a true classic, they can also perfectly fit in modern design themes.

Con: Wrought iron is expensive and vulnerable to oxidation, which is the common cause of rusting in iron furniture.


Rattan

Pro: Rattan is considered as the trendiest because it can be woven into authentic and highly-fashionable garden sets and accessories. It can be in the form of a wicker hanging lounge, a low-slung lounge, a barstool, a footstool, a table, and many more.

Con: Rattan furniture can be quite costly, which is not surprising due to the time and effort spent in designing them. Moreover, it requires special equipment for processing microfiber fabric.


Aluminum

Pro: The ornate embellishments and cushioned seating of cast aluminium furniture makes for elegant and comfortable outdoor sets.

Con: Aluminum outdoor sets can heat up easily; hence, this material is not ideal for roofless patios or decks.


Plastic

Pro: Plastic is the most portable and cheap outdoor furniture.

Con: It may not give the best look that a homeowner wants to achieve.


Which accessories should you choose?

Instead of just the functional purposes of tables and chairs, accessories add more aesthetic flavor to the outdoors. Consider the following:


Lighting

Both natural and artificial light provide a dramatic feel to outdoor gardens and living spaces. But since natural light is not always available, homeowners can improvise using artificial lights.

Lanterns are one example of an artificial lighting that can give a festive feel to any outdoor space. It comes in different colors and sizes. Modern lanterns have built-in sensors—when evening falls, it automatically switches on the light.

Luminarias are also a decorative lighting source for outdoor spaces. It consists of a candle set placed inside a paper bag.

Tropical lighting like Christmas lights, especially when strung under the awning, can also render a creative and yet inexpensive outdoor lighting.

Artificial Grass

Aesthetically speaking, an artificial lawn can give you that perfectly manicured garden regardless of the time of year. If you don’t have one in your home, you might want to consider it, as it does provide plenty of benefits for the on-the-go employee.

Just think of all those small parties you can hold as you relax on a weekend without worrying whether your garden will still look beautiful afterwards. When going for this option, it’s always best to check out the credibility of the company first and find out how their process works to see if you can trust them.


Fire element

Nothing can make open spaces feel warmer than installing an outdoor fireplace. The element of fire adds excitement to the outdoor living experience as it transforms a rather ordinary outdoor space into a warm and inviting environment.

Choices for outdoor fireplaces range from simple fire pits to sophisticated stone fireplaces.


Water element

Water features like fountains add vigor and a sense of serenity to the environment. The sight of the smooth, uninterrupted flow of a cascading waterfall helps soothe the senses. Garden fountains are typically freestanding and consist of different materials, such as fiberglass, stone and cast iron, to name a few.


Make use of bold colors

Bold colors make a striking contrast against the earth tones of the surroundings. Hence, fixtures and accessories with bold and bright colors make the surrounding cool and playful to look at.

Strike a balance

Like in interior design, balance and coordination can be achieved by creating a focal point. In outdoor spaces, this is also true especially when the area is meant for social gatherings. Creating a central point for your space allows engaging and interactive encounters.


Maintenance of outdoor furniture

Ideally, pieces of outdoor furniture should withstand different weather conditions. It is imperative then that you know how to choose the right material for your furniture, as well as how to properly clean and maintain it.


Set a budget

Last, but definitely not the least, you should consider how much you can shell out for this. If purchasing brand new furniture would hurt your wallet, you can opt for DIY furniture or scour online and brick-and-mortar stores for second-hand pieces.