For many people, spending so much time at home over the past year has really shed light on the importance of making your living space as functional and comfortable as possible. Whether or not you’ve been working from home, creating an environment where you feel safe and at ease can have such a huge effect on your well-being.
And with lockdown forcing a lot of us to spend last summer closer to home (i.e. on our balconies and in our yards), it also made a lot of us appreciate our outdoor spaces even more than before—no matter how big or small.
For me, this meant rediscovering the joys of balcony living last year—my partner and I ate three meals a day on our little bistro table there for most of the warm season—and meticulously planning our patio set-up this year so that we can enjoy the summer as much as possible. And although the COVID-19 situation is improving in many places in the U.S. and Canada with restrictions gradually being lifted, I find that I am just as enthusiastic as ever about ensuring my indoor and outdoor living spaces feel just right. It’s something I’ve noticed people being more concerned with than in the past, too!
Spending so much time at home over the past year has really shed light on the importance of making your living space as functional and comfortable as possible.
So, here are some tips and ideas to consider whether you’re starting from scratch, looking to revamp your existing outdoor space, or simply want to jazz up your set-up this summer.
1. Shade Is Your Friend
If you’re planning on spending a lot of time outside, make sure your space is organized in a way that allows you to do more than one activity there, and that you can use it for as long as possible during the day. Ensuring you have a source of shade (like a patio umbrella, awning, shade sail, gazebo, or pergola) is crucial when it comes to spending time outdoors while avoiding melting or getting burnt (of course, you’ll still need to wear sunscreen). It will also allow you to see your computer screen, if you’re looking to get in on the WFO (Work From Outside) trend.
2. Switch Up Your Seating Options
Consider the size of the space you’re working with: if you have a small balcony, folding chairs are a smart idea because they can easily be put away if needed. If you have a larger patio or yard, it’s nice to have various types of seating—an outdoor sofa, bean bag or ottoman, chaise lounge, a dining table and chairs—to make your outdoor area as multifunctional as possible.
3. Add a Floor Feature
Area rugs are an easy way to delimitate spaces into zones both indoors and outdoors, as well as add style and character. And even if your space only has room for one zone, a rug still feels nice under foot (and paw!) and can really help make everything so much cozier. Just check that your rug of choice is designed to be left outside and can withstand the sun and rain.
Deck tiles, peel-and-stick outdoor flooring, and faux grass are some other interesting options to look into.
4. Light It Up, Baby!
Not only does lighting make your space more functional, it also helps set the mood for summer evenings spent reading, chatting, or enjoying a glass of something tasty—alcoholic or not. Strings lights are wonderful, but they’re not the only option! Consider sconces, lanterns, path lights, and pendants, or a combination of options to get the light and ambiance just right.
5. Choose Your Furniture Wisely
Once you’ve got the basics down (seating, lighting, shade), add furniture pieces that are smartly designed and visually interesting—even better if they’re versatile (I’m looking at you, extendable table, and you, too, outdoor daybed!).
Have you ever heard of a balcony bar? I hadn’t until recently, and I wish I knew about them earlier! They don’t take up much space and seem like an ideal place to set up your laptop for an outdoor work session, or your cocktail or wine glass once happy hour rolls around.
A bar cart on wheels is also practical for storing all kinds of things. It’s easy to move indoors if needed, or position differently depending on your activity. Use it as a side table for your water bottle during an afternoon of reading, stock drinks on it when you have guests over, or use it as a moveable plant stand.
6. Don’t Forget About Greenery!
Since spending time outdoors is all about enjoying the (fresh or not-so-fresh, depending where you live) air and feeling closer to nature, bringing in greenery can really do a lot in terms of adding color to your space and really giving it that calming oasis-like vibe. Flower boxes are easy to add to a patio or balcony even if you have zero gardening know-how. Just don’t forget to water them!
Palm trees can be a nice tropical addition to your patio or yard and really help make you feel like you’re on vacation. But know that they can grow quite large and you might struggle to find an adequate place for them indoors if you live in an apartment or condo once summer is over. I’ve dealt with this firsthand, but I’m proud to report my palm tree has survived winter and will be enjoying the warm season out on the patio.
If you want to add plants or flowers to your outdoor haven without taking up too much floor space, install shelving and stack or hang your planters and pots vertically. A vertical garden looks gorgeous and makes a space feel so relaxing, too!
7. Colorful Accessories FTW
Not sure you want to commit to a seafoam-colored sectional (outdoor furniture doesn’t come cheap, after all!)? Opt for neutral hues when it comes to bigger pieces, and jazz them up with colorful accessories like throw cushions, placemats, and tablecloths. Plants and flowers are also great for adding color to your balcony, patio or yard—but don’t forget they require a bit more upkeep than a blanket or rug.
What is something you added to revamp your outdoor space that was a real game-changer? Share in the comments!