Creating outdoor rooms is a great way to connect your indoor and outdoor spaces and get more enjoyment from your property. Think of your landscape as an extension of your home and begin to see spaces as outdoor kitchens, living rooms, hallways, and entryways. This is the first step in creating your outdoor room.
Determine how you use this space. Design entertaining, relaxation, and play rooms for the number of people who use the space. Keep this in mind when you plan for size and select your material.
Indoor and outdoor rooms have several things in common, such as a floor, walls, windows, and a ceiling. Look at those elements, identify them in the landscape, and create a well thought-out, comfortable space. Finally, accents like outdoor furniture and art quickly make this space a beautiful outdoor room!
Start with the Floor
As with the interior of your home, exterior floor options are nearly endless. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Choose material for patios, walkways, sitting areas, and play spaces with these uses in mind.
Lawn is the most common outdoor floor because it is familiar and versatile, but it can be boring and unimaginative. It also requires regular mowing. Instead use no-mow grasses or groundcovers for your outdoor room. Consider perennials like sedges and ferns in the shade, or low-growing natives like Heath aster (aster ericoides ‘Snow Flurry’) and Moss pinks (phlox subulata) in the sun.
Hardscaping is another alternative. It is easy to walk on, it doesn’t need to be mowed, and it comes in many colors and textures. From dyed concrete pavers to natural stone, brick to pea gravel, consider the activities and the look of your outdoor room to help with the material selection. And remember, hardscaping is impervious, so design the nearby landscape to address the stormwater running off of these surfaces.
Walls should be a deliberate design decision. The most common reason to add “walls” to an outdoor room is for privacy. However, walls also help break up a large spaces and give space definition. Additionally, walls can help block sound from a road that may inhibit you from enjoying your garden.
Walls may be made from a variety of materials. You may use an existing wall of the house or a garden shed to define one wall of the room. For a different wall, fences are a quick way to define space.
Of course, plants can make beautiful, natural walls. Consider using something different than the standard row of Arborvitae to add interest, and mix evergreens with deciduous shrubs and understory trees. Mixed borders provide seasons of interest and add to the garden-feel of your outdoor room.
Create Outdoor Rooms With Windows and Doors
For additional interest, and to keep your room from feeling stuffy, add windows.
It may sound strange to incorporate “windows” outside, but windows are really just framed views. If you’re fortunate to be on a property with beautiful vistas, or a majestic tree, direct the view in that direction with a window, or a break in the wall.
To create windows, strategically place or remove obstructions to direct the eye. But don’t remove all obstructions to get the view you want. Add elements, such as trees, columns and planters to help frame views.
Arbors, gates, and openings in plantings work as doors to your room. And they also invite the viewer to explore the rest of the garden.
Add a Roof
Often when you’re outside, you don’t want a roof over you. But on hot days, it is nice to have some shade. Pergolas add a beautiful architectural element and provide a sense of enclosure. They can be stained wood or painted to match the style of your home. Add a climbing vine to make your outdoor “roof” feel even cooler.
Shade from canopy trees can also be a welcome roof. If you’re planning your outdoor room, consider designing with shade from nearby trees- you’ll be grateful you did come August!
Add color with roof options like sail cloths, awnings, and unbrellas. These can be fun and festive, but be aware that solid roofs can trap heat, and will never be as cool as shade from a tree.
Make Outdoor Rooms Comfortable with Furniture
Furniture in your outdoor room has only one requirement- it must be weatherproof. Other than that, the sky is the limit. If you’ve installed an outdoor kitchen equipped with grill, stove, and bar, use furnishings like stools, tables, and cushioned chairs. However, if your outdoor room is a peaceful escape away from day-to-day life, choose a hammock or couple of Adirondack chairs. Use found objects like logs, stumps, and boulders as seating in natural areas. Remember, the more comfortable the furniture is, the longer people will linger.
Decorate Your Room With Art
As with all rooms, special elements make them personal and interesting. Just as indoor spaces benefit from artwork, gardens can become equally inspired. Include functional sculpture like a large planter, or a birdbath for your own “performance art” installation. Handmade sculptures from friends or kids add a personal touch, or you may find it worthwhile to invest in a large sculpture by a professional artist. Even a twisted branch or a found object can work as art in a garden. Just remember, all spaces benefit from a focal point which adds interest and ties the space together.
These suggestions are just the beginning when you create your outdoor room. There are options to fit every style, taste, and budget. Imagine the type of room you’re trying to create, and then build it from there. The designers at GreenWeaver are always available for help too. So get started, and before you know it, you will be spending time in your new favorite room!