June 6, 2018 – Published in Design & Decor Summer 2018 issue
The outdoor life
Words Kenneth Tanti
That time of year is with us once again. Time to go outdoors and re-think your outdoor space? Here are some tips that can help you turn your exterior space into an extension of your home.
The first thing one needs to think about is what the space is going to be used for? What will its main function be?
Outdoor spaces are the perfect areas to use for dining, sitting, lounging or even for kids to play. As much as possible I like to make these spaces feel as though they are just another room in the house without a ceiling.
One of my first suggestions is to have a continuation of the flooring. I like to create an effect where the flooring seems to be a transition from interior to exterior. Having a slightly non-slip surface, however, is advised.
One may also create various areas within the outdoor space. Seating enclaves, sunbathing areas and dining spaces combined with a sophisticated outdoor kitchen – all covered and protected from the sun with the use of pergolas or fixed structures that may be constructed from timber or iron. Structures that can then be taken down in the winter and set up in the summer by adding curtains and fabric panels to them.
Outdoor kitchens are another great way to making more use of your outdoor space. One can go to town with a fully equipped kitchen that would consist of a barbecue, oven, wash basin and more. Combining the use of materials that can resist the elements, like marble or various types of woods together. I still remember a house I owned in which the indoor kitchen was barely used during the summer months. Everything was taken straight out onto the grill and dinner was whipped up in minutes. The cherry on the cake was to then dine al fresco.
Soft furnishings play a vital role too in making these outdoor spaces feel comfortable and alive. There are many outdoor fabrics one can choose from to use as cushions for seating, scatter cushions to adorn sofas and armchairs. Also, with the possibility of hanging curtains to separate various areas under the same pergola or gazebo. It feels more intimate when you can partially close off various sections.
Lighting also needs to be tackled strategically. I tend to still set up all outdoor lighting on dimmer switches to be able to create various puddles of light – some brighter than others. I am opposed to the bright general outdoor lighting that just floods the space and drowns all the effects in it. Accent lighting is key to external spaces as well as internal ones. Having directional lighting can illuminate certain features and hide others.
My travels in Asia a few years back have really taught me that outdoor spaces really lend a hand in maximising the space of your home. Even rooftops that are dead space today may be turned into luscious outdoor spaces to entertain friends and family.