Creating a Backyard Getaway

Note: As written for the Idaho State Journal, Saturday April 5, 2014.

Snowstorms aside, it’s that time of year when our thoughts start turning toward the outdoors.  We dream about sunshine, barbecue, picnics and long evenings spent enjoying the warm weather.  It is also the time of year when people start thinking about making patio furniture purchases.  Here are some tips to get the patio of your dreams.

1. Think about your ideal outdoor experience.  Since you likely won’t have beaches and palm trees in Pocatello, you will want to create your own backyard getaway.  Decide what colors and settings make you happy and relaxed.

2. Determine the main functions of your outdoor space.  This is especially important if space is limited.  If your main event is dinner on the deck, you will want to invest in a table and chairs. On the other hand, if you prefer to lounge and read a book after work, your money is better spent on some comfortable adirondack chairs or an outdoor sofa.  A fire pit and low seating may be ideal if you prefer chatting and roasting marshmallows.  If space allows, you might decide on a nice mix of all three.

3. Make the patio an extension of your home.  Think about your outdoor space as another (seasonal) room.  If your patio or deck is welcoming, you will want to spend more time outside.  Consider outdoor rugs to soften and define the area.  Add pots or beds of plants and flowers to blend the edges between indoors and out.  Weatherproof cushions and pillows can add comfort and color to your furniture.  Electrical or solar lights add to the ambiance as well as guide your path after the sun goes down.

4. Select furniture for comfort and durability.  There are a wide range of weather resistant outdoor products available.  I suggest trying out several options in the stores to see what is the most comfortable for your intended use.  Select the highest quality you can afford, and consider how and where your furniture will be stored when not in use.  I  prefer to mix and match pieces, so you don’t end up with a look that is boring or predictable.

5. Create shade.  Nothing turns you indoors faster than no chance of shade for relief from the blazing sun.  As hard as it may be to remember right now, it does get hot here in the summer.  Your outdoor room will be used much more frequently if you have shady spots created with trees, umbrellas, pergolas or awnings.  It is also practical to locate pools and sandboxes in areas where shade can be provided.

6. Establish privacy.  Your outdoor room will feel more like a retreat if it has a feeling of enclosure, especially if you have a hot tub or dining area.  Fences, lattice, pergolas and landscaping can all lend privacy and help define your space.

7. Accessorize. The simplest way to turn your deck or patio into a welcoming and personalized space is to add weatherproof art, colorful dinnerware, juicy burgers and cold lemonade.

Follow along with me this summer on as we turn our slab of concrete into a fun outdoor room.

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