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Home » ARTS AND CULTURE » MASSACHUSETTS » Design Times with John Pompeii
John Pompeii     BY: Margaret Singer
Design Times with John Pompeii

Designing an Outdoor Space

By John Pompeii | July 25, 2010

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No matter what the weather or the season, you can enjoy cooking, entertaining or just relaxing on a deck or terrace that is every bit as comfortable as the inside of your home.

No matter what the weather or the season, you can enjoy cooking, entertaining or just relaxing on a deck or terrace that is every bit as comfortable as the inside of your home.

You don’t have to have a massive backyard to create an outdoor room – just a little imagination. Ideally you’ll want to include a grilling and eating area, pulled together if possible with a fireplace or fire pit, and some comfortable seating and lighting.

Try adding a fountain, patio heater, landscaping, and sculptures to make your outdoor room even more livable and appealing. It’s all a matter of taste, how you’ll use the space and your budget. Do you plan to entertain a lot? Do you have children? Do you want to create a more secluded, romantic environment? Do you want a space where you can just unwind and relax after a hard day?

Do you want privacy or need to block any views? Use a notepad to jot down ideas about how the space will be used in all of its applications, from entertaining to relaxing.

You’ll find an abundance of information on outdoor room’s online, in home improvement and outdoor specialty publications, as well as at your local home improvement center or outdoor appliance dealer. Pay attention to the different features and how different materials and plants complement one another. Clip or print pictures and put them into a notebook that you can share with your contractor or designer. You’ll be amazed at the many new products out on the market. The key to creating an outdoor room that will add value to your home begins with planning. Sketch out an overall plan for what you want and need and begin to build it in stages as your budget allows. Pay attention to the seating and traffic patterns. Keep in mind proportion and scale. If you have a small yard, focus on the things you absolutely must have to enable you to enjoy the space. Maybe there’s no room for a spa but plenty of room for a built-in grill and comfortable seating. If you’ve got the space, consider multiple conversation areas for enhanced functionality, interest and entertaining options.

Take what you have inside your home and try to bring it out to your outdoor space it can be in the color palette, style of furniture, etc. Just like the inside of your living room you’ll have comfortable chairs and couches for socializing or lounging but they’ll be covered with weatherproof fabrics. To extend the amount of time spent outdoors, consider lighting for pathways or to accentuate landscaping. Time and money spent on appliances and other fun items won’t amount to much if you can’t see anything once the sun goes down. In addition to tables and chairs for the eating area, consider chaise lounges, couches, side tables and possibly a hammock. Decorative details such as a work of art, a sculpture or fun accents like small white party lights (non-blinking) will provide a personal touch.

Carefully placed trees and shrubs can add important texture and appeal to an outdoor room. Select plants that change with the season, offering different colors, blooms or scents depending on the time of year. It’s a good idea to consult with outdoor plant experts and choose vegetation that will create privacy and beauty at the same time. Keep in mind the size of the vegetation as it reaches maturity. The plants must be placed in strategic locations that will not interfere with the function of the room.

Don’t underestimate the power of bubbling or trickling water.   Fountains, small pools, waterfalls and other water features not only add visual appeal to an outdoor room but they also produce pleasing background sounds that add to its overall ambiance. Water features also attract butterflies and birds. These living creatures will add even more beauty to your outdoor space.

Don’t worry if time and budget prevent you from creating the outdoor room of your dreams overnight. Add to it every year – an especially good idea since you’ll develop new ideas about how you want to use the space, new products will become available and your tastes may change.

The Pompeii Design Group Website

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