Creating Outdoor Spaces
Creating Outdoor Spaces
I love to collaborate with landscape architects to craft the perfect outdoor space for my clients. I've learned quite a few tricks along the way and happily share them today as we jump headlong into summer and honor the grill master fathers who will be cooking outdoors this Father's Day.
Tip #1: Consider Functional Space
Take advantage of seating to frame those oh-so-thoughtfully designed views, while keeping in mind the function of the outdoor space is first and foremost relaxation. It's important to provide ample space for people to sit down and enjoy themselves, with plenty of room to dodge wet swimsuit-clad bottoms and the grill master emerging with a piping hot plate. I always allow a path to the kitchen for meal prep and drink refills.
Tip #2: Install Industrial Fans
What I commonly see in outdoor covered spaces is a ceiling fan with a long down-rod, which only moves the swampy, buggy air around without really cooling us off in the Texas heat. But what we did in our loggia at our Meadowood home—and this I recommend to all my clients—was install industrial, wall-mounted fans (as you can see above). Yes, I'm woefully aware of the response clients give who simply can't believe I suggest such a thing when I was just-five-minutes-ago carefully selecting the trim for their pillows and being so fussy about the break on their curtains.
We typically haves industrial fans powder-coated in whatever color the wall or ceiling might be—or in our case, I had them powder-coated to look like zinc so they would match a central, hanging lantern. These fans are so strong and powerful; and because they are mounted on a wall or in a corner, they are positionable, affording a truly effective cooling solution during the hot summer months.
Tip #3: Opt for Phantom Screens
I love a screened outdoor area (as shown here in one of my client's homes) and always suggest Phantom Screens, which are fully retractable, so they disappear when you don't want to see them. When down, you have a fully screened area with unobstructed views, sans mosquitos. Most of my clients opt for multiple openings to allow partial screening with an easy flow for children to hop in the pool or for party guests to effortlessly refresh their mojitos.
Tip #4: Get a Taller Cocktail Table
If you don't have enough room for a separate eating space and table, I like to encourage clients to have some capacious arm chairs, with a central table that is higher than the typical cocktail table. Our particular one we found at Pottery Barn some time ago, and it's just a little bit higher—about 26 or 27 inches tall. It's really a perfect height for guests to be able to lean forward and comfortably set down their drinks and plates.
Tip #5: Add Fragrant Flowers and Running Water
I love to plant or pot jasmine, Old Garden roses, or honeysuckle for a beautiful sense of smell when stepping outside. I think it's important to fully engage our senses outdoors; it's what really connects us with nature. Consider also incorporating the sound of running water in your outdoor spaces; that splash as the water's hitting—there's something so elemental and lovely about that.
Hopefully you find these tips helpful to creating a lovely and liveable outdoor room. We'll surely be enjoying ours this Father's Day as we always do—with John grilling for the kids and me, dogs afoot and joy abounding!