6 Ideas to Improve Your Outdoors Space – Pick One!
This mid-month check in for the Year of Details June challenge – Outdoor Space – is a bit late. The reason is that I was hoping to share my reveal of my “Seating for Two” space I planned at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately my chairs have not arrived so I’m not able to show you yet how the space turned out.
Despite that, I have been spending a lot of time outdoors and my goal for this summer is to really enjoy the season and all it has to offer. We’ve been at home for so many months now I’m afraid the summer will just morph into one long continuum of 2020. But I’m determined not to let that happen. A big part of my plan is to really enjoy our outdoor space.
As I mentioned in my last post (read here), outdoor spaces can be intimidating because it can feel like there’s so much to do it’s hard to know where to start. I think the key is not trying to do everything, but choose one thing you really want to improve so you can truly enjoy summer at home.
I’m sharing with you some ideas for concentrated projects to work in this summer. Think about one thing you’d like to improve in your outdoor space this summer and do it!
Having comfortable seating options will encourage you to actually use your outdoor space. Think of the outdoors as an extra room for living.
One big consideration for outdoor funiture is to cushion or not to cushion. Cushions are a great look, but if you aren’t the type to bring them in at the first sign of rain, consider going with furniture that doesn’t need cushions at all.
Be sure to look out at the space from inside your home, too. What can you see from the living room? An outdoor sofa with thick cushions may look great when you’re enjoying the outdoors, but if you have to cover it for the winter, you may face an eyesore for much of the year.
To add a comfy feel, an outdoor rug can really warm up a sterile concrete floor. The outdoor rug is one of my absolute favorite ways to pull an outdoor space together. I also always add plenty of throws to cover up with on a cold morning or evening!
To make a space perfect for entertaining, focus on creating comfortable seating that is welcoming to guests. This might mean an outdoor dining table and chairs or lounging furniture, or both. Work with the space you’ve got. If you have to choose between a dining table and a sofa and chairs, think about how you will use the space most of the time.
The outdoor dining table is not a necessity. If you go for a sofa and chairs, you can entertain friends and family there before and after the food is ready. Eating indoors means you don’t have to deal with flies and wasps!
Every summer I like to come up with a go-to meal for having friends over for a BBQ. I might try something new, like lamb on the grill, or look for some new salad ideas. And then I try them out so I know they’re good and easy for me to prepare. When we invite friends over spontaneously, I then know exactly what I should pick up at the supermarket. Of course you don’t have to do the same meal every time you invite friends over, but it’s so helpful to have a standby plan.
Shade is hugely important and the lack of it could be a major reason why you’re not using the space as much as you wish.
If you don’t have natural shade from trees, you have options like a shade sail, a retractable awning or a large umbrella. Or, step it up and build a pergola, letting vines grow over it to create a natural canopy.
Our terrace is a sun trap and gets extremely hot in the summer. We have two big umbrellas but they never seem to provide quite enough shade, so we were planning to add a sunshade this summer. Unfortunately it looks like that work can’t be done until the autumn. The good news is that my “Seating for Two” area is on the other side of the house, which only gets sun early in the morning. Look for hidden areas in your space to add a chair or two in the shade.
Incorporate a fire pit into your outdoor space for warmth, a natural conversation area, and of course marshmallow roasting.
My husband got a Feuerschale (fire bowl) for his birthday and we’ve enjoyed roasting marshmallows and the classic German Stockbrot (bread on a stick). There are plenty of beautiful fire pits on the market that could be a centerpiece to your outdoor space, but there are also simple and inexpensive options. We ordered this very affordable one (found here) and it does exactly what it needs to do.
You can set these fire bowls on the terrace or on the grass. The grass will die underneath so it’s best to choose a spot and keep it there.
Maybe this summer you want to focus on one area of planting. A garden is an ever-evolving part of your home, grown and tended through the years. Don’t expect to get it done all at once. Instead, try to focus on one or two projects a season, with a long-term plan in mind.
In May, my son and I planted eight containers of herbs and veggies. The plants are growing like crazy and it proves you don’t need a large plot of raised beds to have an edible garden. When I have a new idea, sometimes I go ALL OUT and I was tempted to build big raised beds and plants 20 different sorts of fruits and veg, but I’m so glad I held back. I am a novice gardener and it makes so much more sense for me to start small.
If you subscribe to my newsletter (if not, you can sign up here) you may have read that I’m smitten with Cali Kim gardening videos on Youtube. She has given my 8 year-old son and me motivation and know-how to plant loads of veggies and herbs all over our garden and even start composting.
Rituals are the magical ways we can enjoy our homes and our lives without letting time just fly on by.
Cali Kim, the garden maven I mentioned above, does morning coffee walks around her garden and I have done this a number of times now. If I’m up before everyone else and it’s a beautiful sunny morning, I take my first cup of tea, slip on some shoes and walk around my garden checking on all of our plants. It’s an absolutely wonderful way to start the day, plus it makes me pay attention to the plants and not neglect them, which is something I could unintentionally, yet so easily, do.
I’m trying to make sure we eat outside as often as possible and that my husband and I sit outside when we talk in the evenings. It’s so easy to fall into the routine of doing these things indoors like we do the rest of the year and simply forget to go outside. My kids have taken to eating breakfast on the sofa outside and I love it.
The next ritual I would like to implement this summer is an evening Aperitivo to officially wind down the day and signal “quitting time” for work. I’m picturing it in the new chairs which will hopefully arrive soon.
Speaking of rituals, next month’s Year of Details challenge is all about our morning and evening rituals and routines. Stay tuned and I’ll be back at the beginning of July.
In the meantime, if you need help with your outdoor space, get in touch here. I offer mood board designs with full source lists – like this one I did for my “Seating for Two” outdoor space.