Is a home really a home without an outdoor hangout area? Besides being safe for socializing, outdoors just feels better, whether you’re throwing a party, reading a book on a warm, sunny day, or just watching the clouds roll by. Fresh air and sunshine, as grandmas have been saying forever, do a body good. To get as much of that as you can, craft an outdoor space for your home that’s so sweet you’ll never want to go indoors. We have some ideas for you here. Some goodies from the farmers market, local brew and cider in the cooler, grassfed meat sizzling on the grill, heart to heart conversation—it all tastes better under the open sky.
Pick the right spot. You don’t want to feel like you’re on display, so think about privacy; add a fence, screen, or hedge as needed. Even a balcony can be privatized with a trellis or a few large plants.
level it up
Hardscape, whether it’s a concrete slab, a paving-stone patio, a graveled area, or a deck, makes it easier to keep the grill, tables, and chairs in order and offsets the space nicely from its surroundings.
An outdoor rug adds a blast of color and makes the space cozier. Plus, after a party you can just shake crumbs off into the weeds and you’re good to go.
The sights and sounds of water instantly add zen to any outdoor space and create a vacation vibe. A garden pond with beautiful koi, a recirculating waterfall nestled into foliage, a meandering stream, or a replenishing pool.... Any water feature will elevate the relaxation of your outdoor oasis.
Seating can be as simple or wildly creative as you want to make it, but it should be durable, weatherproof, and comfy. Classic picnic tables are great fun, and there are really cool patio sets these days. You’ll want at least one or two cushiony lounges of some sort, arranged for conversation and stargazing.
Treat yourself to a hammock. Whether it’s quilted or nylon or woven, nothing goes better with a book and a glass of wine.
Add a firepit for night-time fun. You can buy a gorgeous one, of course, or you can build one from stones you find or purchase. There’s nothing like laughing under the night sky while a fire flickers and crackles merrily.
The work you’ve put in on hardscaping your rig will help convince creepy-crawlies to stay away. So will citronella candles or torches. You’ll still get some tiny visitors, but far fewer—especially if you take care not to let standing water accumulate in unused buckets or odd corners.
Let there be light. Indoor-outdoor solar lighting comes in an amazing variety these days, from hanging lanterns to strings of faerie lights you can wrap around a tree limb.
A few arranged container plants—flowers, ornamental grasses, even pots of herbs—add a lovely vibe. You can even have a couple of cherry tomato plants in pots within reach of your hammock. Now that’s living.
Add a select decoration or two that brings you peace and joy. It could be a gazing ball, a metalwork sculpture piece, a fountain, or statuary—something that adds ambiance and serenity to your space.
A badminton net, a bocce court, a croquet set, or a tote full of Super Soaker squirt guns will not only amuse you and your peers, it’ll delight visiting kids for hours on end.
Get a decent Bluetooth speaker to pair with your phone and you’re all set.
Have a cooking area. You can always spear hotdogs and marshmallows on green twigs over the fire, but there may be moments when you want something more elaborate. A grill, even a simple clamshell one, and a sturdy table for prep space are all you really need—those and the tongs, fork, and spatula, plus a cooler.
When the sun is at its highest point, cool shade is essential for comfort. Shade sails, patio umbrellas, and large cantilever umbrellas are widely available in all colors and sizes and will become your best friend when the summer heats up.
When you’re ready to get started on your new outdoor getaway, be sure to contact or visit our vast array of local hardware stores, patio outfitters, nurseries, pool supply shops, and landscaping businesses. You can get expert advice, sound design ideas, quality products, native plants, and more, all right here.