Take a look out your window and watch a chirping mother bird teach her hatchlings how to fly. In the garden, perennial bulbs that’ve been fast asleep begin to grow and poke up green from the hard winter soil. You can smell the sweet dewy grass, and the world is imbued in sudden color. It’s undeniable: it’s springtime. And this time of year, everyone yearns to be outside. So why not open up your home to the great outdoors? Today on the blog, we’re giving our insider KKH tips on how to forge a connection between your indoor and outdoor rooms for a home that feels expansive, inspired, and full of light and energy. Whether you’re remodeling or just looking to refresh an outdoor patio, these six design ideas are a great starting point for any outdoor living space.
Design Credit: Matthew O’Dorisio | Photography Credit: Karyn R. Millet
1. Go With The Flow
Whether it’s as dramatic as opening the side of your home with floor-to-ceiling glass doors or it’s as minimal as a private entrance to your backyard, the flow between the indoors and the outdoors is of utmost importance. The key is to create traffic patterns so guests can easily travel back and forth between the indoors and out. First, you’ll want to create a list of outdoor furniture with dimensions so you can size your outdoor space appropriately. Keep in mind that the average space for an outdoor living room patio is approximately 16 by 18 feet. For good traffic flow, make sure there is a 3-foot clearance around each furniture piece.
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2. Define Zones
Even though you’re outdoors, it’s important to adhere to several of the rules you’d follow for decorating an indoor space. Most importantly, you want to define zones so that every area of your porch or patio has a purpose. Separate areas for activities such as cooking, conversation, and relaxation.
How do you define zones? Shifts in hardscape materials, trees, shrubs, and planters can all be used to establish corners and borders. Outdoor rugs are another great strategy for defining a specific area: Place one rug with a dining table and chairs to form a dining area, and place a second rug in an area with benches and a coffee table for a casual conversation spot. When situating your outdoor room, don’t forget to also consider the natural elements such as prevailing winds and sun orientation—you don’t want the sun to be in your guests’ eyes all day long!
Design Credit: Andrew Howard Photography: David Land | Design Credit: Studio Lifestyle
3. Provide Shelter
The biggest challenge to designing an outdoor space is also the most obvious one: the outdoors. You and the furniture you specify is going to be exposed and subject to the natural environment of your location. To offer protection from the elements, provide a sheltered retreat for guests to take refuge. Awnings, umbrellas, gazebos, and pergolas are all design-forward ways to shelter your outdoor guests from harsh sunlight and light rain while creating intimacy. Speaking of weather worries, need advice on selecting outdoor materials? Read our outdoor materials guide here.
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Design Credit: Alicia Lund |Design Credit: Brian Woodcock
4. Plan For Privacy
Without walls put up or curtains to close, your outdoor space is not only exposed to the elements—it’s exposed to the neighbors too! If privacy or noise level is a concern for your space, you’ll need to install a fence or tall landscaping between you and the neighbors. For design continuity, one strategy is to install a precast concrete fence or screening wall with a decorative stone or brick pattern that complements your patio.
Design Credit: Amanda Barnes|Photography Credit: Alyssa Rosenheck
5. Go Chic with Teak
When it comes to choosing outdoor furniture, we cannot stop talking about teak. Why teak? Most importantly, teak has the ability to withstand all types of weather. Its natural oil repels water, keeping it from warping, cracking or becoming brittle. So be it spring downpours, winter snowstorms, or summer sun—teak shares the US Postal Service creed. In addition to thwarting harsh conditions, the same natural oils and resins protect the wood from bugs and other pests. With such a low-maintenance and lifelong material (unlike other woods, it never rusts when it comes into contact with metal), its use in outdoor furniture and the most luxury cabins and lodges is no surprise.
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Of course, durability isn’t the only attribute we want in our homes. The real selling point for teak product is that it’s beautiful, and it stays beautiful. New teak wood furniture will have a honey brown color, and over time, it will age naturally into an elegant patina grey. And in either state, the natural teak wood will complete your outdoor space with a touch of luxe.
Design Credit: Studio Lifestyle | Photography Credit: Nicole Franzen
6. Fire It Up
Nothing creates intimacy in your outdoor space like a roaring fire. Installing a fire source will bring guests together, serve as a focal point, and (of course) it will provide heat, which allows you to use your outdoor space tri-seasonally. If you have the space and budget, consider a full-size custom built fireplace; if not, research smaller, portable fire pit options, which provide flexibility and affordability. A word to the wise (especially if you’re based in New York City like we are): check your local building codes to verify fire-safety and placement rules regarding outdoor fireplaces and fire pits before you invest in one.