Kerrie Kelly's 10 Tips for Creating an Outdoor Space
Kerrie Kelly, FASID is an award-winning interior designer, author, product developer and multimedia consultant helping brands reach the interior design community. To contact her, visit kerriekelly.com.
What works and what doesn’t work in the outdoor space? It’s a question I get a lot, as outdoor spaces have evolved dramatically in the past few years, often now requiring as much thought and planning as indoor living spaces.
We were excited to invite the team from Good Day Sac into our backyard space for an early morning grill session. Watch the clips below and read up on some of our tips for creating an outdoor space that feels like an extension of your own home.
Good Day Sacramento Part I
Kerrie Kelly shares five exciting points to consider when designing an outdoor space.
Good Day Sacramento Part II
Kerrie Kelly shares five more tips for outdoor living design.
I like to blur the lines from indoors to outdoors. With innovative materials, fabrics, and design, you can have the interior flow to the outdoors. Consider the same elements you use inside your home, and have it look just as beautiful outside.
Most people spend 90% of their time indoors, so when you can create a beautiful outdoor space, it expands the value and usability of the home. Designing an outdoor space should be fun and creative, and the space should be versatile. When the outdoor space is as well-thought-out and maintained as the indoor space, it helps with the overall perception of the house and adds value.
Below are some tips I offered to the Good Day Sac viewers and to all my clients looking to create that perfect outdoor space.
1. First, consider who is using the space. Who will be enjoying the outdoor space? Kids? The chef? Guests? And what type of events will be in the space – big parties? Weeknight dinners? End-of-season team celebrations? This will help determine what items you’ll need in your outdoor space.
2. Lay the foundation. Regardless of the size of your space, use every inch to maximize the area. You can use the same principles as you do indoors. Visually, start with a large area rug to anchor the space. Outdoor rugs, like my collection with Feizy, are now made of materials like 100% PET [polyethylene terephthalate], made from recycled plastic water bottles, so they’re also sustainable. These can be hosed off, making maintenance easy. There are lots of furniture options, from a simple bistro set to an island with storage, barstools, etc. You can add a fountain or water feature, fireplace, fire pit, grill, seating and more. Create zones for cooking, dining, relaxing.
3. Look up! Think of the ceiling and floor as the fifth and sixth walls. A pergola or awning, like those from ShadeTree Canopies, can provide protection from sun or rain, add some architecture to the space, and be rolled back for stargazing. Consider the weather extremes in your area. Stainless steel is a favorite for outdoor cabinets and structures.
4. Create some privacy. You can do this with floating wood panels, draperies, decorative fencing, tall plantings like bamboo or hedges. This creates intimacy and a sound barrier, too.
5. Think of your space as if you’re inside. Incorporate sofas, side tables, chairs, ottomans, even outdoor lamps. If you extend the color scheme from indoors, it expands the visual and makes your space seem larger. Create multiple areas to eat and drink.
6. Create a focal point. Guide guests to a specific area. You can have some artwork, a fire pit, sculpture or a fountain. This draws guests through the space.
7. Remember, you’ll get hungry! Stock an outdoor entertainment center with beverages and remember the appropriate cooking equipment. Today, this can go beyond the grill — which can be gas or charcoal — and include an Asado smoker from Coyote Outdoor, pizza oven and more. It allows for a great cooking experience. Your appliances should be versatile. Including a refrigerator, and an ice maker is great, too. Make sure these are high-performance models and appropriate for the outdoors.
8. Accessorize! Potted plants, mirrors, pillows, lanterns and artwork all let your personality come through. Be careful of cushions and pillows that aren’t weather-resistant.
9. Light the night. This is the key to enjoying your space after dark, for ambiance as well as safety. Have task lights for cooking, light pathways, suspend pendants over a bar area, and incorporate dimmable lighting in an eating area. Be wary of solar-powered lights, however. They can look very fluorescent, defeating the purpose of intimate mood lighting. To incorporate outdoor overhead lighting and fans (which sometimes include a light), run electric wiring through the structure of a pergola or awning frame. Layered lighting is great, and dimmable sconces also help create a mood.
10. Set the mood. Audio and video technology creates the mood, whether it’s music for a dinner party or team pride on game day. Be sure your space caters to all ages of the family.