Written by: Guest | Best Company Editorial Team
Last Updated: February 24th, 2020
Guest Post by Chris Everett
Whether as a remodeling project or part of a new build, designing an outdoor living space has become an important extension to any dwelling. Outdoor spaces provide a haven to gather and share, or retreat and find peace. There’s no shortage of fresh ideas for an outdoor oasis; however, the most creative, well-designed outdoor living spaces flow naturally with the property, the surrounding landscape, and the home itself.
When considering ways to enhance your outdoor living space, there are endless options ranging from fire pits, patios, decks, and more. But equally important as the type of project is the design’s personality. Here are five ideas to transform your space accordingly:
1. Elevate your space with retaining walls
Adding retaining walls is one of the most transformative ways to enhance your outdoor living space. Quite literally, retaining walls can elevate your outdoor space while serving to control erosion or create space for flowers and shrubs. Retaining wall blocks can be used to create defining curves and corners, as well as enhance terraces, raised patios, steps, and columns.
Similarly, you can also consider incorporating freestanding walls into your outdoor living space. While both types use similar block pavers, freestanding walls are different in that they don't hold back soil. In turn, freestanding types of retaining walls can often be more versatile for flat and expansive properties.
2. Provide a warm welcome for family and friends
Fire pits appeal to people of all generations, backgrounds, and walks of life. There’s just something about gathering around a fire that brings people together. Of course, you could carve a hole in the ground, surrounding its perimeter with stones, and call it a day. Or you could level-up your fire pit with textured stones and hardscape elements.
For wooded properties, consider adding an outdoor fire pit that combines the natural elements of stone, wood, fire, and even water to create an attractive gathering space that complements the surrounding landscape. If that feels a little overboard, consider the possibility of a retaining wall with built-in seating or positioning the fire pit as an extension of your patio.
3. Bring the nightlife home
Outdoor lighting is one of the most under-recognized elements to an outdoor living space, and yet also one of the most accessible and affordable upgrades. While conscious homeowners may be apt to use eco-friendly bulbs like halogen incandescents, LEDs and CFLs, it’s absolutely critical to know what your bulbs look like at night. Some energy-efficient bulbs can render a dull, undesirable light that will define your outdoor space — and not for the better.
Conversely, low-watt vintage bulbs (similar to those shown in the above image) can be the perfect choice. Consider the elevation and hanging arrangement of your lighting. If you have a gazebo or terrance, the beams of these structures make a perfect support to string your lights.
4. Build a patio with natural stone
The primary benefit of using stone while installing a hardscape patio is the stone’s lasting beauty. And because your patio is going to be there for a long time, it’s important that you put a good bit of consideration into its design. You want to ensure that the space reflects your personality, as well as suits your functional needs. Equally important, your space needs to fit your property and the surrounding landscape.
Using natural stone pavers offers endless design capabilities and the creative flexibility to build a truly unique patio space. Shown above are Arbel Stone and Aqua Roc Pavers from Belgard, which are just two among many styles that you can choose from. Your choice in paving stones — whether brick, cobblestone, or textured cuts like above — will define the character of your outdoor living space.
5. Create an extension of your home with decking
When it comes to creating outdoor living space that's truly an extension of your home, decking is a wonderful option. As shown in the figure below, composite decking provides a resilient alternative to lumber that can better endure harsh environmental conditions over time. In addition to added longevity, such decking comes in palatable shades that work well with various properties and landscapes.
In the case above, the natural wood look of composite decking is enhanced by the use of real wood for the arbor, benches, and chairs. The cobblestone paver foundation offers an elegant, multi-level touch that coordinates well with the textured stone fire pit.
The bottom line
Keep in mind, while some of these outdoor living space enhancements are well within reach of construction savvy do-it-yourselfers, more extensive projects may require the help of a qualified home services professional.
However you decide to design your outdoor living space, make sure it suits your personality and matches your property, landscape, and home decor. And have fun creating a space to make your time outdoors even more magical!
Chris Everett is a content writing and marketing specialist for Belgard, a brand of locally made and nationally backed residential and commercial hardscapes products dedicated to helping customers make their outdoor dreams a reality.