These are some of the initial questions we ask when starting to plan an outdoor space. Where is it going to be? What is the use going to be or, how will the space be used? How many people will it service? How is the space going to be defined? What is the character of the room going to be? Once we have answers to these questions, designing the outdoor room is well underway.
An outdoor room should be an extension of your indoor living spaces, to provide you with the perfect entertaining area for family, friends, visitors, guests or clients. These spaces can be furnished with stunning furniture, weather resistant cushions, colorful pillows, dramatic outdoor lamps, drapes and unique accessories allowing you to customize and personalize your space. These rooms should complement and blend harmoniously with your interior spaces to create a unified whole.
Any outdoor space, can be treated as an outdoor room, by giving that space a purpose, a dedicated use and designing it to that use. A simple deck, patio or sidewalk can be converted into a spectacular room by giving the space the right use and with it the right attention to detail. This space can include areas like dining areas, bar or lounge spaces and outdoor kitchens. Terraces, patios, decks, porches and pool areas can all be turned into great outdoor rooms in the garden with a little thought and planning.
Commercial properties owners are looking at outdoor rooms as a way to expand their property offerings without the huge expenditures in creating new building space. These spaces can be viewed as amenities offered by the landlord to prospective tenants as a quality of life improvements for the buildings tenants. Outdoor spaces can generate opportunities for additional revenue by creating spaces that can be set aside from the main use areas and rented for special events like weddings or gatherings. Outdoor cocktail lounges, casual seating areas and outdoor dining areas are typical types of outdoor rooms many properties owners are looking to include. Accessories such as ceiling mounted heat lamps or gas fired heat lamps allow the use of these spaces to be stretched into the cooler seasons. Outdoor rooms associated with urban buildings provide the city with life and energy. These spaces draw people to them contributing to a sense of security and adding to the urban fabric.
The first things to consider when designing your outdoor area, are to choose the right space and determine its new use. It is best to locate an outdoor room near to a building or residence it services. This will create a synergy between the interior uses and your new outdoor area. The use of the space will help determine its size. This is essential if the new outdoor room is supported by a coordinating indoor rooms and services. This could include access to a kitchen, bar or restroom facilities.
Access to your new outdoor area should be simple, straight forward and safe. Visibility from the interior spaces will attract users outdoors and serve to remove any psychological boundaries of indoors versus out. The room should be located along an easily accessed path that is well lit for night time use.
Secondly, you will need to determine the configuration and size of your new outdoor room. The use you have assigned to the space will help to determine its size and layout. It is important to make the space large enough to accommodate the anticipated number of people and provide for sufficient site furnishings for the purpose. A space that needs to accommodate 20-30 people on a regular basis will be totally different from a space designed to accommodate 6-8 people. For example, when designing an outdoor dining space it will necessitate having dining tables, dining chairs, some type of shade structure if located in a sunny aspect, serving tables and/or a bar for refreshments. The furnishings need to be laid out in such a manner as to allow for the intended use and easy access around and between the furnishings.
Defining the physical limits of the room is necessary to make the space feel like it is a truly an outdoor room and not just part of the garden. Some of the ways to define the spaces are with bed lines, planters, hedges, changes in surface materials, paths, walls or fences. Once the limits of the room have been established, the space can be further defined through the use of outdoor drapery, furnishing or additional plantings. Pergolas, awnings, pavilions, gazebos, umbrellas and even large trees are other great ways to create outdoor rooms and provide often much needed shaded.
The furniture that ultimately inhabits the space will play a huge part in determining the character of space you create. There is a wide variety of outdoor furnishings on the market today from traditional teak and wrought iron to more contemporary solutions made of woven wicker, polyethylene and stainless steel. Whether you want to create a formal space for entertaining or a casual space for just hanging out, these spaces need to be planned out to create an integrated look with furnishings and accessories.
Outdoor rooms can vary from very simple, such as an outdoor stone terrace with a few Adirondack chairs set to capture a wonderful view, to a more elaborate spaces linked together for entertaining and dining. Local hotels and restaurants provide outdoor dining, lounging or beverage service areas by utilizing existing sidewalks, paths or patios that are adjacent to the main facility, providing a wonderful respite during balmy weather. These spaces can also benefit from the use of gas patio heaters to expand their use into the cooler months.