Comfortable Outdoor Living Spaces

Transform outdoor areas into comfortable living spaces using decor accessories and recycled materials.

If you spent time at home during the holidays and didn't enjoy spending time relaxing outdoors, perhaps you need to re-think the design of your outdoor area. Today's homeowners are kitting out outdoor areas, both small and large, into comfortable living spaces that not only offer a place to relax, increase your floor plan living space, but also add value to a home.

You don't need a big budget to make an outdoor space feel homey if you already have the structure in place. Adding a few decor accessories and fixtures will up the level of comfort and enable to make full use of the area, and you don't need to do it all at one time. Put together an idea or plan of how you want the space to look and items you will need and shop around for affordable options as and when you can afford to.

It's all in the details! Design experts create comfortable outdoor living spaces simply by decorating these as they would indoor spaces.

Fittings and appliances will make outdoor areas more comfortable; use a ceiling or floor fan for cooling down the area, or a mister if the area gets hot during the day, or a patio heater for cool evenings. Adding blinds, drapes or adjustable shade panels that can be raised and lowered, will help to control temperature and add atmosphere.

Accessories and soft furnishings go a long way towards creating an atmosphere where you want to spend time. Use rugs to dress up plain floors or a concrete slab and add colour and texture.

You want to make your outdoor living areas as comfortable as possible and to do this you should employ the same methods as you would when decorating the interior of your home. While outdoor furniture should be able to withstand the elements, today's pieces are specifically designed for use both indoors and outdoors and you can quite easily make your own furniture using hardwoods such as meranti and saligna.

While I have made several outdoor pieces using laminated pine, this softwood is not as durable for outdoor furniture and will eventually split along the laminated seams, even with regular wood treatments.

Even on a wood deck, adding a soft rug underfoot introduces colour, pattern and texture to make a space feel more personal. On a covered deck that is protected from the elements you can look at almost any type of rug, but a rug made of organic materials such as coir and sea grass, etc., will be better suited to this area. You can even paint a plain rug if you want to add colour and pattern.

Add even more personality and comfort by using fabrics to dress up an outdoor space. A steel rod or chrome rail will allow you to hang eyelet or tab-top drapes. Take your colour cue for fabrics from what's already in the space or choosing an accent colour and selecting contrast or complementary hues.

To save money on dressing up your outdoor spaces look at what you already have, or browse around for recycled materials that can be re-purposed into practical furniture for your decorating project. Tea chests, packing crates, wood pallets - be innovative and use your imagination to recycle materials into practical pieces that both look good and are useful, like these tea chests turned into coffee tables.

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