Even though it’s only March, it’s already time to start prepping your outdoor spaces for use this spring and summer! As a designer, I’m always looking for ways to improve upon my clients’ spaces, so why not take a cue from me and think about all the ways you can take your outdoor spaces to the next level this spring?!
Whether you're looking for landscaping ideas or want to add interest through hardscaping or furnishings, here’s what you need to consider to achieve truly well-designed outdoor spaces.
When it comes to landscaping, I don’t just address what’s in view when you’re in the outdoor space. I always also encourage my clients to think about what the view is from their interior spaces and how we can improve upon it by addressing the landscaping.
When you think about it, the view you’re looking at from the windows and doors in your home is just as important an aspect of your home's interior design as the furnishings and décor. We want to “frame” the beautiful views outside as if they’re art, curating what you and your guests will be looking at to enhance the experience of your interior spaces.
Taking the time to address landscaping issues can help take both your interior and exterior space to the next level.
For example, if the view outside is beautiful but trees or other obstacles are blocking it from being seen to the best advantage from your windows, the best option might be to move them to a different location on your property. That way, you get to enjoy both the scenic views and your trees to their fullest.
I have certain personal favorites when it comes to plants and materials and I frequently use them in my clients’ landscapes for their color and textural merits. But more importantly, I prefer to make use of native, drought-tolerant plants to reduce the need for irrigation (this is known as xeriscaping) and to ensure the elements selected make sense within the context of the natural environment.
I love the Native Plant Society (which we’re highlighting in our RHD email newsletter this month) for its recommendations on choosing native plants, as well as its worthwhile mission of preserving our natural resources and our environment.
Although hardscaping can be more of an investment, as well as more of a permanent commitment than some other choices in your outdoor spaces, it’s an extremely important component for creating structure and adding visual interest.
From patios and decking around pools to paved pathways, or low walls that divide up garden beds to raised beds that provide eye-catching height variation, hardscapes give definition to your outdoor space and distinguish one area from another, for example, dining and seating areas from plantings. When well-designed and built from beautiful, quality materials, they can greatly enhance and elevate the look and functionality of your outdoor spaces.
When designing hardscapes for my clients, I generally prefer elements that feel organic and natural and that provide good functionality. My goal is to ensure that each element serves its purpose while still blending seamlessly with its surroundings. Like a good interior design, a good landscape design should feel like an extension of the architecture and the surrounding environment. We use hardscapes to balance out the design with the natural environment while not making things feel too stark, overly manicured, or “paved over.”
Although they may not qualify as true hardscape elements, I love making use of boulders and rock outcroppings whenever possible in my clients’ outdoor spaces to add structure and visual interest. They make for perfect ‘hard’ elements while still being entirely organic and natural. One of my favorite landscape architects, Scott Shrader, is a master at using rocks and boulders to beautiful effect in his designs.
Furnishings & Accessories
When it comes to furnishing outdoor spaces, I typically like to focus on clean lines and comfortable luxury as the keys to creating an elevated look and feel.
Generally speaking, ornate details and vibrant color palettes won’t render the rich, well-designed results we’re going for (unless the context calls for something like a kitschy, retro Palm Springs vibe). Opting for clean silhouettes in soft whites, grays, browns, greens and other earthy tones is a sure way to furnish just about any outdoor space with an elevated look and feel.
For cushions and umbrellas, you always want to select outdoor-grade fabrics from lines such as Perennials and Sunbrella that offer many gorgeous color and pattern options in soft, feel-good weaves. The way these fabrics are made helps them resist fading, stains, and other signs of wear. In fact, these fabrics are so good, that–unlike some of the cushions and pillows I’ve seen sold off the shelf in retail stores–the ones I’ve designed and had my workroom make for my clients have lasted and looked great for years.
There are so many opportunities available for personalizing and elevating your outdoor spaces this spring. If you haven't already, now's the time to order furnishings and add-ons so everything is in place when temperatures rise. And if you’re interested in working with me to create your ideal outdoor or interior spaces, just reach out to me here.