THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Some might say I'm an indoor girl. With that being said, I am the ultimate critic of outdoor spaces. Comfort for me is key.
My parents have a beautiful home on a 1 acre property. What I've always enjoyed about their property was all the different areas there were to gather. Little sitting areas. No matter where the sun was, or if it was raining, there was always a place to be outside - in comfort. The other aspect of their property that I love is the beauty in the landscape. They don't have a typical yard. There are different elevations - meandering paths to the lower part of the yard, overlooking an incredible view of the lake. The front yard isn't typical either - there's a great bench hidden among some established plantings. When I'm there I want to find a place to curl up with a coffee. It was with that mind that I planned my own yard. I hired a landscape architect to design it for me. She and I poured over pictures of outdoor spaces until she figured out what I was after. We incorporated spaces for the kids to play, as well as spaces for the adults to gather. I wanted a resort feel.
There are a number of considerations, hard surface finishes are one of them. You can go with traditional concrete, aggregate, stamped concrete, tile, wood, or composite decking to name the most common. Aesthetics and practicality will guide you. Elevations are another issue. Sometimes just dropping the elevation 3 steps can create a much more interesting feel. As it is for interiors, lighting is critical. You want to light your yard for use but also to display some key landscaping details. I enjoy driving by a house that has great outdoor lighting.
Of course you need to deal with plants and grass etc. Figure out what you like. Take the time to talk with your landscape architect about what grows well in your area, as well as each part of your yard. It all depends on sun exposure. This will save you money. You don't want to have to replace a bunch of plants! We wanted to put our sectional on a grassy spot. This presented a problem - how do we get the lawn mowed with a piece of furniture on it? Fortunately they make incredible artificial turf now. For some spaces you can't get a mower to, or for those of you that are against mowing entirely, this is a good option. Shop different brands - some look better than others!
The outdoor kitchen is a wonderful thing. I love to barbecue. The aroma of steak grilling outside screams summer. Plus, it means my husband cooks - a major bonus. Consider adding a wood or gas/wood combination pizza oven. You can do a lot more than pizza in them. Such a great way to entertain - and they look amazing!
Lastly, and of course my favourite, is the furniture and decor. I like a splash of colour outside. Again, when I think of the ideal setting I think of some of the fabulous resorts we've stayed at. Great outdoor carpets, umbrellas, pillows, statues, fountains and lanterns. All of these things will give you that resort feel.
The only thing left are the friends and family to enjoy what you have created...and of course the fabulous food and drinks to go with it!
Photography - Melissa Carl