This summer, bring the outside in using these five tips

Modern living is more than just finding a suitable place to relax within the four walls of your house. Outdoor spaces are a vital extension to our homes and provide us extra space to eat with family, converse with friends, or to just relax.

Whether you’re freshening up newer construction or starting from scratch on an older home, the perfect indoor/outdoor living space is possible. Here are five key tips that will help you create it.

1. Pick the right spot

Depending on the configuration of your home, your patio area will more than likely link to your living room, dining room, or kitchen. Obviously, for a true indoor/outdoor living space, a direct connection with your existing living room is optimal.

While the kitchen or dining area might work too, this could mean extending an existing patio area to make the overall design more cohesive. Plan your ideal design first, as it may prove more practical to create a new access point than to use an existing one in an inconvenient location.

2. Create good flow

The ultimate goal for your two spaces is to make them feel harmonious with each other. To do so, you’ll need to create a positive movement and sense of continuity between them. You can achieve this in two ways:

  • Complementary flooring between the two rooms. Assuming you don’t replace the inside floor, travertine or concrete are versatile outdoor options with styles to match any indoor flooring. Paving stones also work well, but make sure to use the right stone for the size of your space.

  • Installing moveable walls or large doors. Genuine indoor/outdoor living means the ability to make the two spaces one whole area. While not always practical, the larger the access point, the better. If the space or budget is small, French doors are a great compromise.

3. Cover your outdoor space

Protection from the elements is crucial if you expect to come and go as you please between spaces. Even if it’s not an actual four-season living room, a roof overhead will allow greater use throughout the year.

While a solid roof is an ideal solution, pergolas work great if you’re looking for shade. If you want something less permanent but with plenty of coverage, retractable awnings are also viable. Less inexpensive options include shade sails.

4. Choose decor that makes sense 

A hunting lodge inside and a beachside bungalow outside does not make for coherent indoor/outdoor living. Maintain a consistent theme between the two rooms with textures, colors, and individual motifs all in service to unifying the areas. 

To take this a step further, select outdoor furniture that serves as a direct extension of the indoor version. For simpler designs, accents such as similarly styled rugs or throw pillows will do the trick.

5. Position your kitchen appropriately 

Much like the inside of your home, your outdoor living room isn’t complete without a kitchen close by. However, depending on the overall space you have to work with, you’ll want your outdoor kitchen area positioned away from the outdoor living room. This helps create specific entertaining zones that provide a more fluid indoor/outdoor experience.

More importantly, however, it keeps the smoke and smells away from both the living room outside and the one inside. If it’s possible, make sure your outdoor cooking is adjacent to your indoor kitchen and that there is immediate access between them.

Bonus tip: Balconies are outdoor spaces too

If you live in a multistory home, there’s a chance it has a balcony. These extra outdoor spaces can prove quite useful if given the attention they deserve. For example, upper-level game rooms with an adjacent outdoor space are great as conversation or hangout areas.

Adding a small outdoor sofa or a few nice chairs and maintaining similar design elements between rooms will liven up even the most sparse balcony. This is particularly helpful if you entertain large parties and want to provide guests extra space to talk and get some fresh air.

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