Creating an outdoor oasis has never been more en trend. Whether you’re poring over outdoor kitchen designs or perusing comfortable outdoor furniture, these five designer insights will help you plan a space that seamlessly transitions from peaceful sanctuary to dinner-party central.
OUTDOOR LIGHTING IDEAS THAT SHINE
Create ambience with the right lighting.
Your three basics are ambient, accent and task. Ambient lighting can be achieved by hanging fixtures, post and wall lights. Task lights will illuminate a path, and accent lighting illuminates architectural details as well as ornamental structure and landscape.
What’s trending: String lights. They add a fun, more casual vibe and can be easily added by a trained professional.
Can’t go wrong with: Gas lights are timelessly classic and pleasing to the eye. Nothing compares to their warm, soft glow. They are also available in numerous finish options to work with a variety of styles.
—Kevin Walsh, Bear Hills Interiors | Little Rock, Arkansas
CONFIGURE OUTDOOR FURNITURE
Consider your outdoor space an extension of your home.
Furnishings should be comfortable and scaled correctly—and set up for conversation and cocktails! Plus, mixing materials—woven with teak, glass with metals—adds dimension and visual interest.
Give your guests options: A large sectional doesn’t have the same flexibly as a sofa and multiple arm chairs. I love when clients can cozy up or spread out!
It’s all about the details: Define outdoor spaces with area rugs, then add pillows, accessories, fresh bouquets or potted flowers.
—Lisa Davenport, LDD Interiors | Connecticut and Naples, Florida
OUTDOOR SURFACES THAT LAST
So long, stucco and stainless steel.
Today’s homeowner is looking for an elaborate outdoor kitchen and lounge area leveraging a monolithic design concept where the outdoors blend seamlessly with the indoors.
Set up for success: Select a surface that is ultra compact or non-porous, in addition to offering scratch, UV and stain resistance.
Go big: Work with your selected surfacing material in unexpected ways like wall cladding, flooring, backsplashes. Consider cladding outdoor cabinetry with surfacing materials to craft a seamless blend between the indoors and outdoors.
—Nar Bustamante, Nar Design Group | Sacramento, California
FUNCTIONAL OUTDOOR KITCHEN DESIGNS
Think beyond food prep.
Create a bar top or outdoor kitchen surface, so your guests can face you while you cook. Proximity to the house is also important. An outdoor kitchen should be far enough that smoke isn’t pouring into a window, but close enough to connect electrical and water.
Three must-haves: 1. Everyone wants to be able to grill outside, so some sort of heat source is always useful. 2. A refrigerator, for less back-and-forth to the kitchen. 3. A sink. Clean-up is always important; plus, you can fill it with ice and chill wine or soda.
Spring for the good stuff: I always push clients to use the nicest materials they can and to select something that complements the house.
—Robert Bell, Bell Design, Inc. | Washington, D.C., Southampton; Palm Beach
THE BEST LANDSCAPE IDEAS TAKE TIME
Never underestimate the power of plants.
Use plantings and hardscapes to create outdoor rooms. Add lighting, water sounds and a fire element to enhance the experience.
What’s hot: Kitchen gardens in urban spaces with raised planter boxes to provide fresh herbs and produce.
Starting from scratch? Do not rush the planting plan. Bring in a landscape architect early in the new build process. The overall design is a collaboration among architect, interior designer, landscape architect and owner.
—Gavin Duke, Duke Design Group | Nashville, Tennessee