PHOTO OF MICHAEL BUNN – with SAVANNAH HARDSCAPES –
How to Design an Outdoor Living Space
Outdoor living spaces have grown significantly in popularity and importance in recent years, progressing from secondary spaces to personal sanctuaries, family gathering spots and preferred destinations for entertaining.
Whether working with a professional designer or going it alone, there are four good points to keep in mind while constructing your outdoor oasis: function, style, quality and comfort.
First, it’s important to think about the primary function of the outdoor space. Is to relax, read, sun, grill out with your family or entertain? Or maybe it will have various functions.
Once you have determined this, you can incorporate different elements into an overall plan with flexible items as the anchors. An outdoor kitchen, for instance, can host a family night of grilling or serve as a bar countertop for cocktails. Outdoor seating comes in various offerings and can cater to a world of activities.
Changing seasons can be accomodated by incorporating contrast into the design. A trellis or pergola can be used to provide shade in the hot, summer months and a fire pit or fireplace can offer a cozy alternative to the typically confining, winter months.
It’s all about balance and tone, defining a style across the board. Personal taste and budget will dictate a more simplistic or luxurious point of view, but it’s important to have an integrated scheme outdoors, just as you would on the inside of your home. Whether you prefer Lowcountry Tabby or Japanese Zen, fluidity is key.
It is the combination of hard and soft palettes outdoors that create well-roundedness and can project the appearance of an extension, rather than a separation, of the home. Durable materials, which can be any variant of brick paving, stone, concrete or wood, can carry you from the main home to the outdoor setting, while the maleable materials, or plant life, weave warmth, life and serenity to any backyard.
Privacy fences, walls, enclosures, fountains and other water features should be given the same consideration, relating their colors and style to the design. Further depth can be accomplished with the use of vertical stone applications, statues and statuaries, sculptures, pots, planters, candles, fabrics and outdoor lighting.
Notably, the quality of the products will determine their durability.
In cooler, less humid regions, cast and wrought iron are acceptable, yet in the southeast, they will rust. Teak and woven furniture offer sophisticated, weather-proof alternatives to wicker; as well, many elegant, durable, mildew-resistant fabrics available today are long-sustaining and include customized colors and patterns with their purchase.
High-end appliance makers like Viking and Al Fresco have also entered the outdoor market, featuring a wide range of products that include gas and charcoal grills, smokers, wall ovens, hoods, refrigerators, freezers, wine chillers, beer taps and large-capacity warming drawers.
While initial sticker shock may apply to certain items, it is important to remember that the higher-end products are meant to last a lifetime, while the less expensive items may need to be changed out four to five times over.
That said, an experienced designer should be able to balance your likes with your budget. High-use spaces may need to carry a sturdier product, like stone or tile, underfoot, while secondary paving could come in the form of concrete, perhaps tinted to compliment the stone.
Finally, comfort is largely important.
The furniture itself, the fabric, the cushions and seasonally appropriate gear, like patio heaters, can change the simple outdoors into an oasis for you, your family and friends.
Founded in 1996 by William and Jonathan Rhangos, Savannah Hardscapes is the largest provider of stone, brick, pavers, interior tile and design elements in the Southeast. The company is one-of-a-kind, bringing together globally sourced sustainable and reclaimed surfaces with the most experienced artisans in the region to ensure expert installation and lasting results. These turnkey capabilities uniquely position the company to translate any design professional’s or individual owner’s vision into reality at the most competitive price. Savannah Hardscapes is located at 64 McDowell Circle (between Savannah, GA and Bluffton, SC). 843-784-6060 www.savannahhardscapes.com