Summer is coming in hot and what better way to welcome the season than to make sure your home is ready for hours of enjoyment and relaxation. An outdoor space that's thoughtfully-designed and set for optimal relaxation makes for the kind of home you wouldn't hate coming back to, especially as temperatures rise and your body itches to go on a permanent holiday.
Here are 10 ways to transform your precious outdoor spaces into summer oases that can trump any vacation rental in the market:
First and foremost, shade matters.
The most important aspect of a backyard oasis is a roof over your head. Having one protects you from the external elements and weather changes (hello, sun and rain) and allows you to enjoy your time outside at any time of the year.
Especially during the summertime where the sun seems to burn through your clothing and your skin, you’ll be thankful you installed that roof or bought that garden umbrella. Other shade options include trees, vine-covered pergolas, and retractable awnings.
Designate lounging spots.
Comfortable seating and lounging are crucial in a relaxation hub. Just think - who says it's relaxing to stand all day? If you're a regular joe, then I'm sure you want a seat or two to lounge and sunbathe, read a book, or take an afternoon nap. Opt for weather-proof seating like traditional wood or brushed rattan, and finish off with outdoor pillows and comfy blankets.
Add in a hammock (or two!) if you have mature trees or poles lying around - otherwise, an outdoor daybed or cushioned swing works just as well in amping up the comfort levels of your backyard.
Focus on function for your lighting and sound systems.
Lights and sound are not only crucial elements of an event, they're also vital in setting up the perfect backyard oasis. Nothing's worse than wanting to step out after dinner for some fresh air and heading back inside after finding out you can't see anything outdoors. At the most basic, invest in porch lights or task lighting the help you see your trails. For a more fun take, consider outdoor string lights which are a crowd favorite since they turn spaces into dreamier, more romantic versions of themselves.
In terms of sound, set up outdoor speakers that can play background music or the audio of a film you're watching under the stars. There are speakers that fit into just about any budget, with the more expensive ones even working as security sensors to help deter intruders in your backyard.
Plan your exterior plants.
Greenery is a shoo in for relaxation 101, and your outdoor space is not exempt from this rule. Use plants in a variety of ways, from simple décor like table centerpieces or to aromatherapy implements that make your scented candles look and smell weak. Plants are also a great way to repel bugs in your yards and add color to your spaces. Add citronella grass, petunias, and lavender in your gardens and say bye-bye to those pesky insects that cause nothing but trouble.
Aside from function, look to convenience when picking out the flora that shall stay in your home. A tip which many seem to forget at times is to choose plants that already work well in your environment and climate. Local shrubs are not only resistant to weather damage but are also cost-effective since you can get them in most local farms and botanical shops.
Don’t forget your privacy.
Privacy is super important in a home, and more so in an outdoor space. Fences and garden walls help seclude and secure your outdoor spaces, allowing you to feel more relaxed and calm. Overhead roofs, pergolas, and outdoor curtains not only help ensure privacy in a space but also provide that necessary shade to turn a garden into a getaway.
Extend the inside out.
Remember your indoor space and the interior design style you followed in decorating your home? Well, if you want to make your space cohesive and put-together, it’s best that you carry over design elements from inside your home to your outdoor spaces. Meaning, if you went completely minimalist in your living room and sleeping quarters, it may not make the most sense for your backyard to be a maximalist mecca. Instead, you can take some of your primary colors in the home and utilize those outside.
That said, don’t be afraid to experiment a little with your textiles and accessories in your outdoor area. Have fun pairing the yellow from your kitchen to a bright blue in your patio versus the neutral browns, and explore busier patterns that you wouldn’t necessarily use in your bedroom in your garden lounger instead.
Add an outdoor kitchen or bar.
Is your backyard really an oasis without food and drink? I think not!
Adding an outdoor kitchen and bar to your home multiplies your ability to host guests and enjoy more parts of your home. Outdoor kitchens need not be complicated – even a renter can have a badass grill out in the yard! – and can be as simple as you need it to be. A rule of thumb would be to have a grill, a simple table for food prep, and a cooler for your beers, soda, and water so you wouldn’t have to step in everytime you’re feeling thirsty.
While you’re at it, don’t forget a dining set-up that’s designed for the outdoors (think plastic rattan, iron makes) so you and your guests have a place to sit and eat the burgers you just grilled in your outdoor kitchen.
Install a water feature.
The sounds of water flowing have been known to help increase calm and release stress in an environment, which is why many Japanese gardens utilize water features like still ponds and fountains. Introduce more natural elements into your backyard through water implements, waterfalls, and aquariums. If you have the space and the budget for it, a pool or spa may be good options to have in your space as well, especially in the summertime.
If you have a view, take advantage of it.
Lucky are those who live in spaces with killer outdoor views. If you’re a lucky one, then it’s ideal you set-up your outdoor space maximizing the view. Place loungers in a spot where you get the best view, and skip the clunky furniture and high hedges to avoid covering the scenery. Design your landscaping to complement the view and overall environment, not compete with it.
Let’s talk “fun” features.
Relaxation generally means the presence of calm and lack of factors that cause tension or stress. But for some, it can also mean the presence of opportunities to have fun and play. If you’re the type to consider relaxing as a fun activity, then it may be worth upgrading your backyard to something that encourages play and action. For example, mini playgrounds are perfect for your inner child, and an outdoor cinema set-up is nothing short of everyone’s dreams. A treehouse is a family-friendly feature that can make for great memories for you and your loved ones.
The beauty about adding fun features like these is that you get to customize your space based on what “fun” means to you, making the backyard uniquely yours.