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Designing A Very Special Outdoor Space

Updated on February 27, 2010

Spring is finally around the corner, and as always it seems we cannot get enough of the outdoors and fresh air. It is not necessary to have a large or lavish outdoor area to create an outdoor living space. All that is required is a small area where we can savor our natural environment.

Design an outdoor living space for a variety of uses. Plan impromptu parties with friends. Share family meals outdoors in your space. Catch up on a favorite novel or magazine. Weather permitting, exercise in your outdoor living space. Arrange a candlelit dinner in the evening. Plant and maintain flowers in an outdoor gardening space. Or sip a cup of tea and enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation!

Furnishing an outdoor living space can be simple or extravagant, depending on the way you desire your space to function. A few basic furnishing options to consider include a comfortable seating arrangement and a couple of tables. Electrical outlets are extremely advantageous, as they allow you to use your space all the time.

Contemporary outdoor furnishings are designed for style, ease of care and durability. Outdoor furnishing fabrications include iron, wood, plastic and resin, to name a few. Cushions add style and comfort and encourage family and friends to linger outdoors. Plastic covers, which protect furnishings from seasonal storms, are readily available from patio furniture retail stores as well as several catalogs.

If the budget for your outside living space does not permit new furnishings, consider "borrowing" underutilized pieces from your home's existing interior. Scour your home for extra tables and seating options. Decorative benches, twig furniture and rocking chairs are ideal for outdoor spaces. Storage trunks, stools and stackable crates can serve as functional tables. Floor and table lamps are practical lighting options. If your outside space contains an existing wall, consider installing a decorative wall sconce for artificial illumination. 

Search yard sales and your own garage or storage areas for camping supplies. Folding tables and chairs, as well as battery-operated light fixtures, are practical options for an outside living space.

View your outside living space as part of the square footage contained within your home. Small, decorative touches can customize your space and transform it into a reflection of your own unique decorating style. Incorporate decorative accents such as pottery, framed family photographs and collectibles within a covered area contained in your outside space. Use interesting baskets to house books, magazines or children's toys. Add color by incorporating plants and fresh flowers within unusual containers of varying shapes and sizes. Bring ambience and scrumptious aromas into your space with scented candles,  placed strategically around the perimeter. Add pattern and texture with distinctive throw rugs constructed from natural fibers such as sisal or jute. Drape cozy, machine-washable quilts or throws over seating for those chilly summer evenings!

When the cooler weather approaches, consider these options for your outside living space. If there is enough room, incorporate fashionable furnishings back into the interior of your home, or bring furnishings into a protected storage area. If space is limited, leave furnishings outdoors and protect them with fitted plastic covers. Another option is to leave all-weather furnishings outdoors and enjoy your new living space year round!

Be creative and have fun designing and decorating your outdoor living space. The more you utilize your exterior space, the more uses you will find for your new extension of the interior of your home.

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