My custom-built shed by Kloter Farms plays a functional and decorative role in my outdoor room design. I store garden tools in this eight foot - by - eight foot space. Shelves are lined with vases and candles. The shed doubles as my garden office where I tuck myself away to write about my most recent garden activities in my journal. This is also where I meet and greet visitors to my garden tours. The pitched cedar shingle roof offers a bonus space for hanging and storing trays and baskets that I use for outdoor entertaining. Now let’s focus onyour space using my design principles. I call them the “power of three:” Reason, Design and Style.
Always begin with why you need the space. Over the years I have designed many outdoor rooms for clients all over the country, and no matter how big or small a property might be the outdoor room concept is attainable. Even an apartment terrace can be transformed through great design. Most of our time outdoors is spent with our families and entertaining our friends. But big outdoor spaces can end up unused if the whole family is not present. That’s why I find the most intimate spaces can be the most rewarding to design.
You should always begin by identifying each zone. Understanding the zones helps you tackle vast properties by turning large spaces into a sequence of smaller spaces. Smaller spaces can seem roomier when you discover the real reason for having them and design accordingly – funny how that works. Regardless of your reasons or the size of the space there is one important rule you all should live by: Never, ever design a space for one person unless you want to stay single for the rest of your life. Two chairs, two chaises or even a hammock for two will do. The whole idea is to make the space inviting for you and someone else.
Designing an outdoor room is easy when you focus on four important details. One: Lighting. Two: Flooring. Three: Furniture. Four: Accessories. Lighting: Plan around the sun. For example, if you’re looking for a place to rest, find a space where you get shade; if you’re looking for an area to entertain, find a bright area that is protected from the full sun but has filtered light. For the best dining area look for a cool, well-lighted space that provides a respite during meals.
My dining space was once in the backyard with easy access from the back door and kitchen. But I realized that in the morning it was too cool as the house cast shade. At lunchtime it was too hot. Only after 6 p.m. was it just right. So last year I moved my outdoor dining area under the pergola. The pergola, with vines of wisteria intertwined with clematis, offers a bright yet filtered light. Flooring: Just like any well-appointed room you must begin from the ground up. Carpet, tiles or wood surfaces are the norm indoors, but the choices for an outdoor space can be even more exciting. Consider cobblestone, Belgium blocks, pebbles, brick and slate.
These materials offer durability and drainage. Mix them for greater effect. My outdoor living room combines three materials: Belgium block borders, pebbles and slate. The slate design mimics a throw carpet under the coffee table, fooling the eye.
Furniture and Accessories:
One of the best things about designing an outdoor space is that you can be bold and use larger pieces that might be off-scale inside. Create boundaries with furniture or shrubs, allowing the openness to take center stage. A good outdoor design motto could be “No walls? No borders? No problem!” You can create spaces, from an intimate set of chairs for coffee on the lawn to a dining space under an old oak tree. With the “no wall” concept there are no limitations.