Here in Boston, spring has finally sprung — which makes now the perfect time to flex your exterior design skills and revive that outdoor space you’ve been neglecting for the past five months.
Get ready for fun in the sun (and under the stars) with these six tips.
- Go Inside Out
- Let’s %#*$ Grow!
Whatever you love about your home — the styles, the fabrics, the accents — bring it outside. Find weather-resistant counterparts to the furniture, rugs, and lighting that bring your indoor space to life and add them to your deck or patio for a seamless transition to your outdoor paradise.
The same goes for color choices for your outdoor space. You can go for a similar color scheme for both your interior and exterior spaces. Let that palette guide your choices for exterior elements like planters, umbrellas, and lighting. Be sure to also consider the natural colors your flowers and plants bring to your space — if they are varied, perhaps neutral or natural colored furniture and fixtures make the most sense. If you have a pool or garden pond, it’s a nice touch to use colors that work well with the natural blue of the water.
Lastly, whenever possible, try to match styles — throw pillows, art, candle holders — inside and out.
When choosing outdoor greenery, there are many advantages to using plants that are native to Boston and the New England region.
Native plants are:
- Easy to maintain: They use less water and fertilizer because they’re tolerant to the area’s soil and climate.
- Non-invasive: Exotic plants may spread and affect natural habitats, but native plants cause no harm when they spread out.
- Suitable for other creatures: Birds, insects, and our furry friends can feed on, pollinate, and shelter safely in native plants.
Some indigenous (and unexpected) plants to add into the mix include yarrow, black cohosh, maidenhair ferns, and chives.
To keep things visually interesting, incorporate plants of different heights and line the edges of your space with border bushes and shrubs. Colorful succulent varieties are also a great way to add variety.
Furniture made of poly-resin wicker, powder-coated steel, and teak are excellent for the outdoors, and come in all shapes and sizes — from rocking chairs to sectionals to swings. Complement larger statement pieces with lightweight, foldable pieces that can be easily moved during inclement weather or to reconfigure your space for guests. Scotchgard™ your cushions and pillows to protect them from spills, rain, and the sun — and it’s never a bad idea to bring them inside when they’re not in use.
A dining set will do nicely if you like to host parties or have dinner with the family al fresco. Bench-style seating is the perfect choice for kids, and a 3-piece wicker set with comfy cushions is great if you’re going for cozy and intimate.
While more expensive, wood and metal outdoor furniture is always a good investment, as it’s generally more durable than plastic and wicker.
Outdoor spaces are great for entertaining — and for entertainment. Install a projector and screen for shows, movies, and gaming, add a permanent Hook & Ring Toss game (or fold-up Cornhole set or Chippo™ boards), and get a waterproof sound system or portable Sonos Move™ that you can — well — move.
A waterproof outdoor sound system comes in all sizes and specifications, but choose speakers with the best sound quality for their footprint. Since you’ll mount your speakers around your outdoor space, choose a brand that can handle temperature and moisture changes.
Another fun idea is to get a wood, charcoal, or gas pizza oven — the Ooni Karu 16™ makes a great pie and is also pretty damn nice to look at.
For the ultimate in open-air fun, add a hot tub to your outdoor space. Aside from it improving circulation and relieving stress, a hot tub offers an instant status boost, and increases the value of your real estate.
You deserve better than string lights. Here are some great lighting ideas for your outdoor space:
- Bamboo stake lights for a tiki bar vibe
- Floating lanterns for your garden pond or swimming pool
- Cordless, rechargeable lamps for dining centerpieces
- Traditional iron lampposts for a Victorian touch
- Camouflaged rock lights that blend into your landscaping
- Strip lights along steps, walls, and borders
- Spotlights installed around trees and sculptures
- Exterior sconces to hold candles or LED lights
- Multicolored plastic bulbs hung from trees
- LED-lit stools, side tables, benches, and cubes
There are countless ways to light up your outdoor space — but look for rechargeable, solar, or energy-saving options to keep your power bill manageable.
Outdoor fireplaces run on wood, gas, or liquid propane and are the perfect focal point for your space. A self-contained fire pit like the Yukon Solo Stove™ (inexplicably on sale this month!) and chimineas (which keep the smoke out of your eyes) are also great options, especially for smaller spaces. Whenever possible, opt for cast iron, steel, or aluminum designs for durability. An outdoor fire offers warmth, light, and perhaps most importantly, a place to make s’mores! For maximum safety, choose a fire pit with a mesh cover or screen.
If your outdoor space is situated where high winds that can carry smoke into your property, or you live in an area where burning wood is prohibited — choose a fireplace that uses gas or liquid propane instead of wood or coal.
Hopefully these 6 tips will help you re-imagine your outdoor space and maximize the enjoyment you get from it. Whether you’re looking to be the go-to spot for the neighborhood, or just create your own peaceful getaway that’s just a few steps outside your door — the most important thing is that you make your space your own.