Outdoor Living Tips With Heather Stewart

Monday, May 24th, 2010

With the beautiful weather lately we want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. FVP asked local home stager, Heather Stewart for tips on creating beautiful outdoor living spaces.

Q. When should you start planning and setting up your outdoor living space?

A. You can set up your outdoor living space as soon as it’s warm enough that you want to spend time there.

You can plan your outdoor space all year long. Pay attention to colours, textures and shapes that you like and think about how you might incorporate them into your outdoor space. If you start at the end of the previous summer you can find killer deals on outdoor living furniture and accessories.

Heather likes this soothing colour palette by Chris Kauffman

Q. Creating a great outdoor living space is more than just having the right patio set.  What other things can you include?

A. You can create a great outdoor living space for your patio furniture by using fences, overhead design elements and accessories. You can use permeable surfaces like pavers, flagstones, blocks or bricks.  Sustainable materials for decks are available in more and more variety.

Fences and plants can be part of your design and can be used to create private conversation areas, dining areas and lounging areas.

Don’t forget to consider overhead design elements like pergolas, arbors and sun shades.

Lighting is another important element.  Function and ambiance should both be considered.

Once you have created the envelope of your outdoor living area, think about adding accessories for decor and function. Depending on your needs you may include an alfresco dining area, lounge area, conversation area, play area for children or pets, water feature etc. The options are endless.

Think about using one or two colours as accents to use throughout your outdoor living area to create flow and cohesion – you may want to use an accent colour from inside your home to increase the feel of your outdoor space as an extension of your indoor living space.

Heather enjoys this great use of inexpensive furnishings in a small space to create a comfortable balcony seating area. Photo by Niche Interiors.

Q. Do you have to buy items specifically for outdoors or can you use items that are usually inside your home?

A. Furnishings and accessories can be those made especially for outdoor spaces.  Fabrics and finishes for outdoor items abound.  Many indoor items can be repurposed and incorporated for outside areas, too.  Ceramic stools, metal lanterns and candle holders, stone sculptures, metal furniture (with appropriate finishes), and (treated) fabrics all make the transition easily from indoors to out.

Q. Outdoor rugs: can they be left outside all summer or do they need to be taken indoors if it rains?

A. In drier climates than our own “wet coast”, outdoor carpets can be left outside all season.  However, when the weather gets wet, outdoor carpets (even from covered spaces) are best rolled up dry and placed somewhere dry for the duration.  Forgetting once or twice won’t be disastrous for an outdoor carpet but best to dry it thoroughly in the sun after a cleaning or a dousing with rain to prevent mildew and staining.  Keep in mind that any pad under an outdoor carpet should ideally have the similar care and maintenance to the outdoor rug so they can be cleaned by the same method and will dry in similar time frames.

Heather loves, loves, loves taking indoor furniture outside.  Photo from Dear Daisy Cottage

Q. What kind of lighting could one use in an outdoor living space?

A. Traditionally, low voltage landscape lighting has been used in outdoor areas along with standard outdoor light fixtures.  Spotlights, flood lights, security lighting, pathway lights, lighting for water features, decorative lights and even lamps can all be used to create the ambiance you want in your outdoor living space.  Many of these types of lighting are now available in affordable versions using solar power.  Decide what kind of lighting you want to incorporate in your design and then seek out lighting using any combination of power source that works for you.

Your outdoor living area can be a simple or as ornate as you are comfortable with and provides another design opportunity – have fun and enjoy!

HS Home Staging
Ring: 778.278.4747

Contributor: Kelly Neufeld

Kelly Neufeld is a freelance writer who lives in Abbotsford with her husband and their two daughters. In addition to writing articles for the Fraser Valley Pulse, Kelly is a contributing writer & Marketing Coordinator for Impowerage Magazine. She enjoys spending time with her family, staying active and shopping.

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