The outdoor room or kitchen is not a new idea. Indeed, with all the hype over the past several years about both, outdoor rooms and living areas during the warmer months have become an expectation rather than a luxury.
If you want to expand upon or improve your existing outdoor space in 2014, keep in mind two key trends — low-maintenance and sustainable outdoor design. Even if you have a green thumb, you want to be able to enjoy your outdoor rooms. Having to constantly mow the lawn, water the greenery, or continuously move cushions indoors and out is not the best use of your outdoor entertainment time.
The following are the top six outdoor design trends to keep in mind for 2014.
1. Making the Most of Lighting
Gone are the days when “outdoor lighting” meant sticking a few solar-powered spikes along the garden path and calling it a day. As with indoor lighting, the goal is to create ambiance and mood; to make spaces usable at all hours and for multiple functions.
Pathways, stairs and doorways need to be illuminated for safety, but what about the dining and seating areas? While a fireplace or fire pit and lots of candles can be added to your lighting plan, know that more is needed.
Consider outdoor pendants, chandeliers or even LED lights that offer varying color options for something a little more playful. Place lights on different control switches, remember that timers and dimmers are options, and take advantage of the many heights available to you outdoors.
2. Incorporating Fire Features
Though fire was mentioned as a component of lighting, it really does belong on its own. Because while firelight prolongs the day’s use of the outdoor space, it is the heat of the fire that prolongs the seasonal use, particularly in climates that experience four distinct seasons, not just “wet” and “dry.”
One caution with regard to outdoor fires: Check your local bylaws to ensure your fire feature, especially if it includes an open flame, won’t get you into any legal trouble.
3. Keeping It Native and Sustainable
What’s an outdoor space without some greenery? The trick to minimizing maintenance is to opt for native plants and/or ones that are drought-resistant. That way, you need not worry about nightly waterings or any drastic changes in weather conditions — native plants have built up a tolerance.
Note that grass is included here. As much as grass has somehow become the standard for yards, it often isn’t the best solution; consider alternatives so that you can keep the grass to a minimum.
If any of the plant species you use require regular water, consider installing drip irrigation. Keep in mind, too, that you don’t need a horizontal plane to have a garden. Vertical gardens are hot right now. If all you can visualize are climbing vines, do some research as vertical gardens can be stunning.
4. Growing Your Own
Whether the impetus is the current popularity of all things zombie, the hipster foodie movement, or something else, there is no denying the resurgence in growing one’s own herbs, vegetables and even fruits. Having your own supply of quality ingredients also can be a great inspiration for eating more healthfully.
5. Going All Natural
Natural materials, such as stone slabs and real wood, may have a greater initial cost than man-made composites and plastics or vinyls, but the lifetime value also is higher. Plus, why would you want your natural outdoor area cluttered with unnatural materials?
6. Making Outdoor Space “Lounge-worthy”
Particularly if you’re entertaining, seating is crucial. Many of us are not blessed with the space to accommodate multiple separate seating and dining areas. Be creative with your space, and remember that built-in seating and benches are not limited to the indoors, especially if you require space to store cushions, gardening or cooking tools, toys or whatever else usually stays outdoors. Build into or along a retaining or devising wall.
What are the most important aspects to planning your outdoor space(s)? Focus on smart design and low-maintenance elements that cater to entertaining and/or relaxing at any time of day — whether bright, overcast or dark, wet or dry.
Christina Mogk is the lead designer for mecc interiors inc., an accredited and award-winning Toronto-based design studio specializing in mindful, easy, classic, confident interior decorating, interior design solutions and project management for residential clients.
This article was provide by Multibriefs.