Making the most of small outdoor living spaces

Phantom Screens / August 3, 2016

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Your outdoor living spaces don’t have to be big to be functional and comfortable. With a little creativity and planning, you can turn your small space into a favored retreat, party spot or recreation area. Here are a few tips to make the most of the space you have…

Choose multi-functional pieces

Don’t waste your limited space on a piece of furniture that isn’t necessary – choose multi-functional items instead. For example, purchase stools that can be used as end tables or coffee tables that can also be used for seating. Make sure these items include storage as well. Some benches or tables have a lid that lifts off to reveal storage space. This allows you to keep extra items, like decorative pillows, out of sight until they are needed.

Position for view

Face your outdoor living room so it looks directly at the widest part of your yard. This will make the area seem open and more spacious. Avoid placing plants that will obscure your view of the yard and arrange furniture and other elements – such as an outdoor fireplace – so that they are open to your landscaping. Treat your yard like a painting at which you want your seating to look.

Cover the space

Covered outdoor spaces are an ideal design for small yards or patios because they create an area that is visually separate but not secluded. For example, a covered patio may become the space in which you entertain guests, but they can stand and leave the area to roam your garden if they so choose. Apply the same concepts for utilizing your view to your covered patio and you’ll have an open, yet comfortable, outdoor room.

There may be times you want your covered outdoor space to feel more protected. You can accomplish this by installing retractable screens for large openings. The screens will keep bugs out of your private space while still allowing you to enjoy the view of your yard.

Avoid building deck levels

Creating a variety of levels in your yard or patio design is certainly interesting, but it prevents you from using all of your space at once. For example, if you want to host a garden party in your small yard, your guests won’t have as much room if they have to contest with levels. Instead, place the entire yard on a single plane, giving you a sweeping space should you need it. You can break up the yard if you’d like by arranging furniture into visual rooms. Face outdoor sofas and chairs toward one another on one side of the patio and place a fire pit with seating on the other side.

Merge indoor and outdoor spaces

Create more outdoor space by combining the interior of your home with the exterior. Install a large opening in the room that leads outside and choose folding or sliding doors. Use the same flooring material inside as you do on the extending patio so that the two spaces look like one when the doors are open. You can also install retractable screens in this opening to once again rid the area of bugs.

Simplify your garden

Choose plants that won’t obstruct your view or take up too much space. Climbing ivy or large bushes can easily overpower a small yard. Pick small flower beds that define the perimeter or plant tall grass along your fence to add height that doesn’t clutter. Place potted plants inside your covered deck to add greenery to your seating area. Most of the yard – any space that isn’t being used for your patio – should be open and grassy.