11 Considerations When Creating Outdoor Living Spaces in a Small Backyard
Decks, balconies, and even outdoor kitchens add to the functionality, variety, and enjoyment of your home. During the temperate months of the year, you can host parties outside, enjoy family meals in your outdoor areas or just kick back and relax. Even with a small house you can enjoy the benefits of outdoor living spaces – provided you think about the following considerations.
1. Define the purpose
Define what you want to achieve with your outdoor living space so you can prioritise. As space is limited, list your must-haves first, such as seating area with fire pit and barbeque, and nice-to-haves last, like a swimming pool. You’ll need to make compromises, but this exercise helps you identify what’s essential and what’s not.
2. Find the space
Next, look for the right space. You probably already have the area in mind, but don’t limit yourself to the space behind your house. For townhouses and units, the pathway areas on either side of the house could be turned into small yet comfortable outdoor living areas.
3. Create a focal point
Create a focal point in your new outdoor space. Focal points are important because they add interest while bringing all the elements in the space together. This can be a dining table, a small coffee table, a firepit, a sculpture, stepping stones, a tree or a fountain. By defining your focal point at the start, you can add the remaining elements around it to create a cohesive space.
4. Use smart layouts for furniture
For narrow spaces, you’ll need to keep the doorways clear, and for balconies use chaises, club chairs, and other low furniture pieces. Use boxed hedging and other pot plants to block out neighbours if they’re close by. Set an umbrella between seats for shade, and keep it simple.
5. Create designated zones
Zoning smaller spaces can seem counterintuitive however creating designated areas can be highly effective for small spaces. This is because individual spaces with a mixture of open as well as intimate spaces, give the impression of spaciousness. It also adds functionality, so you can read quietly in one area or socialise in another. Break up the zones with planters, small walls, different ground surfaces such as pavers and make use of positioning furniture.
6. Use movable features
Use portable, movable items so you can tuck things away when they’re not in use. For example, you can have a portable fire pit, barbecue, or stove as well as foldaway tables and chairs that can be stored in the garage when not needed.
7. Landscape in layers
Think of layers when landscaping your outdoor spaces – as this can create a sense of spaciousness. Always plant the tallest plants at the back, closest to the fencing, and leave the smallest plants for the front row.
8. Go minimalist
With very small spaces, go minimalist with your furniture and allow one or two focal points to shine through. Avoid clutter and complex designs when it comes to furniture, and too much colour. Pick one or two colours and use simple additions like a pot plant or a lantern to add interest and variety.
9. Use vertical space
The vertical spaces in your garden should be considered valuable real estate, so don’t forget to make use of them. Lattice walls, pallet fences, and even wall fountains can make attractive decor elements in small inner-city spaces. By making use of your vertical spaces, you can enhance the aesthetics without taking up too much room.
10. Add a spot of colour to neutrals
Use mostly neutral colours for your outdoor furniture, as too much colour can make smaller spaces seem cramped and cluttered. However, don’t forget to add a few colourful accent elements to liven up the space.
11. Apply smart furniture strategies
Furniture is probably the most important element in your outdoor living space, so choose multi-purpose furniture and prioritise for comfort:
- Multi – purpose furniture – Find furniture pieces that offer double the functionality. For example, look for tables or benches that come with storage drawers.
- L-shaped pieces – L-shaped furniture allows you to make use of awkward corners, leaving more room on your deck or patio.
- Small tables – Sometimes compromising on the size of your table is the best option. When it comes to quality time in your outdoor space, it’s likely a large comfortable chair outweighs a huge table for your coffee mug.
- Tall furniture – Go tall with your tables and chairs to create long, clean lines in your cramped spaces.
Make a plan before you start
Even smaller properties can have attractive, functional outdoor living spaces, but it can take some planning to get it right. Creating zones, avoiding too much colour, and going for the minimalist look are great approaches. Using your vertical spaces and choosing your furniture pieces carefully can also help you create the illusion of spaciousness. By applying these tips, you can maximise the utility of your outdoor spaces, making them wonderful spaces for entertaining, quality family time or simply relaxing.
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