Outdoor living is all part of the home experience and people are more invested in their homes now more than ever. Recently we had several clients who have existing outdoor living spaces contact us to help plan an expansion. People clearly love being outside and want more space to enjoy the seasons! One of the reasons I love outdoor living so much is because it does offer a great way to extend your home’s living and entertaining spaces without actually adding on to your home. And with our weather in Tulsa, outdoor living is very doable!
All One Space
Even though we are “interior” designers, we are always looking and thinking about what is right outside your window and how it reflects back into your home. A good example of this practice is when we determine what furniture to source for your outdoor living area. If I have a living room that has sofas and sectionals in it, and there is an exterior living space off this room, I would not typically put a dining table there. Rather, I would put a gathering of chairs so the living room continues to look like a living room all the way through to the outside. But, be careful to note you don’t want only one type of seating in all these spaces. If the interior living space has a grouping of chairs I would put sofas in the exterior living space so that it serves a complimentary function but offers enough difference to keep it visually interesting.
Along the same lines, we often have to ask, what is going to look good and serve your needs. Many outdoor living spaces, especially with newer home build design layouts, have access to the outdoor living from both a living space and the primary bedroom suite. I wouldn’t want to walk out of a bedroom to an eating area; I’d prefer a place to relax and lounge, so the choice to make a cozy seating area seems obvious. And, if you have access and views from the kitchen—that’s the place for your dining table, especially if you are lucky enough to have an outdoor kitchen.
Complimentary colors need to flow from the interior to the exterior. If I have a fairly neutral living space indoors, but I want a bright color by a pool then I usually sneak in a bit of that color in the living room to tie it all together. Similarly, I wouldn’t want a blue/green/yellow motif inside if an orange and red color scheme are on the porch. The two spaces have to work seamlessly together. One of my favorite ways to get color outdoors is through the use of interesting end tables, whether that’s a ceramic garden stool or another material such as stone. In the same vein, if you prefer a more monochromatic look, an interesting end table can add much needed texture to the space. End tables really add a lot of character in an outdoor living space.
Setting the Mood
Lighting is a big deal on exteriors. Again, think about the function. You’re not trying to read a book outside, right? You’re there to gather and socialize, enjoy the fresh air or stoke the fireplace. Outdoor lighting is all about creating ambiance. Well, that and deterring bugs! If I can find a way to get indirect light away from the seating area, then bugs will go towards that and not be a bother for your gathering space. Ceiling lights and lighting around the perimeter of your space are both great ways to accomplish this goal.
Everyone loves the folding accordion doors, but in Tulsa you have maybe a total of six to seven weeks that you can truly open the indoors to the outdoors. Beyond that you have to consider the pollen, which you definitely don’t want in your home. My solution to this is always screens, which help protect against pollen and, perhaps worse in some cases—bugs!
We recommend and use Tulsa Area Screen Co. These screens are usually mounted on the outside of your patio and give you filtered air, privacy and protection from bugs. They are incredibly advanced—they come in different materials and can easily raise and lower to suit your needs. If you have the protection of screens, then you really can have those patio doors open a lot in Tulsa.
Creatures of Comfort
To truly enjoy your outdoor living space as many days out of the year as possible, you’re going to need a little help maintaining the ideal temperature for maximum comfort. This can be accomplished with fans and outdoor heaters. There are some very stylish freestanding heaters or there’s also the option to put them in the ceiling where they can be virtually out of sight.
Fireplaces outside are the ultimate. Not only are they beautiful, they also can serve as a screening for areas you don’t want to see. As if that wasn’t enough, they offer the opportunity for a wood-burning fireplace, a feature you may love but not necessarily want the mess of inside your home.
Fire pits are also a hot trend. For one, they are less expensive and two, you can typically accommodate more people around one due to the 360-degree seating opportunities. Some are even freestanding so you can move it around as desired. The one thing to consider is a fire pit or fire table (which uses gas) needs quite a bit of air circulation to operate safely. It is not uncommon for me to have a client whose home already has an outdoor fireplace request to add a fire pit, often somewhere more secluded in their yard. It creates its own little gathering area and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t love an excuse for s’mores?