This is a must-read guide if you’re designing an outdoor living area for your home. Where do you start? A lot of headaches creep in for many of us ‘homeowners-turned-exterior-designers’ - ineffective planning and corner-cutting can end up in a backyard nightmare.
We’ve pulled together some information to help you design an outdoor space that you’ll be proud to spend quality time with your family in. Your family will thank you and enjoy spending long hours into the night with you in your backyard.
What is the motivation behind creating an outdoor area? Is it to spend time with family? Have your own private oasis? Dining? Set your goal early and stick to it otherwise, procrastination and distractions will start to take hold.
Where your new space is located is important when it comes to designing and planning. Is it south facing? Detached from the house? Is the space limited by fences, pools or other structures? Do you need to take your neighbours into consideration? Don’t let these be detractors from your design, incorporate them and make them features.
Is your space just for the summer months, or are you planning to use it all year round? The weather, location of the sun and prevailing winds should be in your planning dossier too. There’s no use setting up your new patio in an area the sun never reaches otherwise you’ll never use it and that’s suboptimal in the long run.
Finding the most optimal way to use your space is key, every inch should be considered in the planning phase. Think about the different uses you’ll want over the lifetime of your property. Space for dining, drinking and relaxing, and don't overlook space to play with the kids. The shape of the area is also important - think about how you can use the natural curves and lines of your space.
When you consider the budget, you must ask yourself how much are you willing to spend and you want to spend it. While it may be appealing, it's recommended you don’t cut too many corners. Looking for cheaper options is not always a good idea, there are some elements of an outdoor area that you shouldn’t compromise on quality.
Umbrellas are a very popular choice because they’ve got all the key features homeowners need. They’re stylish, flexible and provide UV protection while remaining very easy and cost-free to maintain and can last 10 years or more when you purchase a quality solution. Outdoor patio umbrellas are popular all over the globe.
A popular permanent solution for shade, you can use them to create interesting shapes. They can be difficult to get down to clean and maintain, and their large coverage area tends to collect a lot of foliage.
Wall mounted awnings are quite practical for deployment but the excessive moving parts and strain from the weight can cause them to become damaged, twisted and not work all too often. Great for covering a deck that’s lined up right next to your home.
These are permanent structures topped with open rafters. They look good but may not be the best solution if you need full shade. They also need regular re-staining or re-painting to maintain. Best paired with an outdoor umbrella or another shade solution to provide comfortable shade.
These structures function similarly to interior blinds and are mounted above the area you are looking to shade. They are usually made of aluminium. Despite looking good, they are the most expensive shade system available and are mostly quite inflexible. Difficult to maintain and repair, they’re best for outdoor rooms that convert to a full inside room during winter.
When the sun gets low or the wind blows, retractable screens are handy. They protect from angled sun rays and provide additional privacy. With the retractable option, they can be lifted when needed. Good, basic protection from low-angle sun, but they do require a permanent structure to mount off and are therefore another system that is best off having a symbiotic relationship with other shade solutions.
Now that the function and use of the space are set out, let’s create an outdoor space.
Based on your decisions on how you want to use the space, you now need to consider what furniture and fixings you’ll require to make the headway towards your goal.
Think about what outdoor seating you’ll need, heating and cooking with barbecues and firepits. Keep your plan in mind. Just to help you get started, here are the essentials for outdoor spaces:
Relaxation under shade is a universal enjoyment. It’s important to know that just blocking the sun doesn’t correlate to UV protection – it’s important that your shade is also filtering out UV rays.
It’s also important to invest in a shade solution that protects from less than ideal weather to maximise the time you can spend outside.
Shadowspec Umbrellas filter out almost 100% of UV rays and provide protection from rain, wind and other conditions that would otherwise limit outdoor enjoyment. Look after your family they’re important!
1 Table & Chairs
The table is the centrepiece of all outdoor dining areas. It's where family congregate and memories are created. Your first choice should always be the table and chairs.
2 Shade & Shelter
3 Warmth & Cooking
4 Plants & Vegetation
Add a splash of colour and interest, plants provide nice fresh air and a nice organic balance to the other furnishings you're selecting.
Frustration can seep in when you’re trying to design the best possible outdoor space. Don’t get overwhelmed, there are plenty of online resources to help you get the right solution. Talk to an expert supplier about the products you’re looking to put in your space. The secret is to invest in premium products for essential fixings.
By focusing on quality over the price you’ll save yourself money and headaches in the long run – products that are built to last will make the rest of your design slot into place. You’ll also be able to take advantage of using the knowledge and expertise of expert suppliers. Premium products come with premium service and they’ll be more than willing to help you achieve the perfect space for your needs.
The first step in designing your ideal outdoor area is to have a clear vision of how you're going to use it and to consider all the different aspects beforehand: location, purpose, weather elements, and of course budget.
After that you will need to determine exactly what type of furniture goes into that space, striving for three things: beauty, comfort and functionality. There's no need to accept compromises: if you choose good quality products you can have all of them. An essential moment of your project will be how you decide to create shade. Try to be as flexible as possible here. Outdoor patio umbrellas are a popular choice in this case, as they can fit any scenario. Check out our cantilever umbrella range, it's great for home and garden use.
If this process sounds daunting, then the expert opinion from a professional supplier will be a great help. When you're creating your dream outdoor space, you want to talk to someone who knows what's available on the market and can recommend the best solution for your needs.