Create an Outdoor Kitchen
Why run back and forth when you can prep and cook outside in the fresh air? An outdoor kitchen expands your living space and allows you to cook outside among your guests and family. It also means you’ll never miss another one of your aunt’s crochet championship stories again. Depending on your space and budget, an outdoor kitchen can be as simple as a work counter next to your braai area, or as elaborate as a fully kitted-out kitchen, complete with built-in appliances and all the trimmings.
Tip: A small built-in fridge is a popular choice for outdoor kitchen areas. Having icy cold drinks conveniently located prevents guests (and you) from constantly going in and out of the house.
Fire It Up
If you have a fireplace inside your home you probably spend most winter nights trying to squeeze in between family members and half-roasted pets. The same is true for outdoor living spaces—a source of fire keeps you warm and draws people around it. Nowadays, fire pits come in all different sizes and styles, so finding one that fits in your outdoor area is pretty easy. As a heat source, fire pits (and maybe a few blankets) also extend the amount of time spent outdoors on cooler nights.
Tip: Take wind into consideration when deciding placement and type of fire bowl. Burning bits can get blown out of the fire bowl, so choose a protected area.
Sit to It
Seating is probably the most crucial part of the puzzle when it comes to planning an outdoor area. While a dining room style set up is great, why not opt for a circular or lounge-style seating pattern instead? A comfy couch paired with a couple of chairs can create a rather inviting outside environment. Benches are a flexible option too—either to sit on, nice and snug for an intimate chat, or to add around a table for a big outdoor dinner.
Tip: Don't include so many chairs that it becomes difficult for people to walk in and around your seating area. Choose items such as ottomans and small side tables that can double up as seats too.
Put a Roof on It
Installing an awning, pergola or trellis over your outside area will naturally make it more inside-like. A roof structure will cover you from a little drizzle and also provide shade in the hot summer months. A ceiling can also provide a spot to hang things from, such as outdoor furniture, lights and plants. Making things even cosier.
Tip: Adding a ceiling fan to your roof will provide a refreshing breeze, while giving the space more of an interior feel. It can also help keep mosquitoes and flies away.
Opt for an Outdoor Rug
Like ceilings, an outdoor rug or carpet can provide warmth to an outside area. It also outlines the area as a definitive space. And just like furniture and lighting made for the outdoors, an outdoor rug or carpet is generally made up of more durable materials, which can withstand water and wear and tear better than household rugs. While acting to extend your interior, a rug can add an extra layer of colour and comfort too and can help to tie in the outside area’s furniture and decor rather nicely.
Tip: Carefully measure the outdoor area you would like to cover with a rug before you shop. Fortunately, these days, outdoor rugs are available in many sizes and shapes so you shouldn’t struggle.
Ambience Is Everything
Selecting the right lighting will help guests and family members linger a little longer outdoors. Permanent lighting fixtures such as a wrought-iron chandelier and cast iron fixed lanterns, for example, create a chic outdoor style. If you don’t want permanent lighting fixtures, you can also play around with options such as lanterns, candles, hurricane lamps, fairy lights and solar jars to create a softer light in and around your outside abode.
Tip: Use strands of fairy lights rolled into a ball and capped with glass garden cloches. It's a fun alternative to candles—and you don't need to worry about them blowing in the breeze.
Add Accents to Walls
Often walls are used as borders for indoor living areas. You can decorate them with photographs and art, making them a little less stark. However you’re often limited to what you can do with walls in an outside space. This doesn't mean you can’t get creative and have a little fun dressing large slabs of stone or concrete. Items such as outdoor signage, wire decorations, hanging plants and mirrors all help to make it feel just as homey as the interior.
Tip: Use a trellis fastened to a wall to hang your garden tools, such as spades and shears. This will create a chic spot to keep your tools as well as add a rustic touch to an empty-looking wall.
Add Some Colour Where You Can
There is nothing like bold and bright colours to make your outdoor space pop. Yes, you can always play it safe and keep it neutral with earthy hues, but experimenting with pockets of colour will add depth and texture to your space. Now this doesn't mean fifty shades of fuchsia, but rather something subtle like a turquoise blue bench, some colourful scatter cushions, or even a set of strategically placed colourful planters.
Tip: If colour coordinating is not really your forte, layer hues in the same colour family such as shades of the same blue-green.
By Kari Collard
Images courtesy of:Weylandts, unsplashed.com, On the Patio, Corrodi, Sarah Ord, iStock and Visual Hunt