Summer is just ‘round the corner so what better time to prepare for relaxing afternoons and casual, balmy evenings, than tending to your own backyard.
As we travel this gorgeous land on our relentless mission of decorative beautification, we’re thrilled to see a growing commitment to improving exterior space and, as devoted fans of alfresco entertainment, we can only imagine the fun hospitality that takes place.
Create the perfect first impression
As much as we see many wonderfully tended terraces and decks, we still see lost potential in certain quarters. We see homes with fair external order —well painted doors and windows and patiently tended plants and flowers —but neglected design and final dressing detail. Chances are your neighbours and passers by are gossiping about your lost potential. Or, in other words, grumbling about their view… to yours. So, whether green thumbed or not, isn’t it time you got it together? It’s amazing what you can do, to make your great outdoors, even greater!
Time to bring your indoors out -so dress to impress and never underestimate the power of accessories!
Get the best from your space
So how do you add that all important —yet often strangely elusive— design factor? Well it’s actually not that difficult! A porch or front step, for example, should serve as a welcoming stop off point as you fumble for your keys. It should provide visitors with somewhere to wait, sheltered from the elements, as you make your way to greet them. Porches allow you to spend time en dehors even if the weather is bad and, if shielded from side winds via all-weather blinds or screening, they can be enjoyed well into fall. Add a (supervised) patio heater and you could fi nd yourself savouring alfresco hot chocolate even as winter takes hold. Bliss!
As you plan how to dress your patio or veranda, think about how its furnishings will relate to the rest of your exterior. Plunder the detail of your home’s architectural character —roof lines, eaves, posts and rails, etc.— and mirror these in your additional propping. Modern exteriors can be successfully dressed with funky modern pieces but a traditional exterior looks best when dressed with wicker, wood or rustic detailing. A little mixing and matching can be fun—but it’s good to respect your home’s “vernacular”!
Before thinking of furniture and accessories, make sure that the area in which it will be sited is well maintained. As the new season dawns, it makes great sense to tackle a little DIY:
• Use a power washer on decks to remove grime. Doing this will clean and reveal the original tones and patina of your fl ooring.
• Treat your timbers! Apply a wood preservative to inhibit moisture and a couple of coats of stain.
• If you have a slabbed terrace, weed between each tile, then apply disinfectant and weed killer.
• And if you’ve got grass? Invest in a cute wee mower and start striping that verdant greenery! Tip —do as we did in our Scottish home and share the cost of a mower with neighbours.
One of the worst things you can do is treat outdoor spaces as a storage area. A front stoop used as a local dump is SUCH a turn off . If you’ve nowhere else to store refuse, sort it into recycling boxes. Buy colour coded crates, stash them neatly together and don’t over flow!
A collection of terracotta pots planted with brightly coloured flowers and foliage will add a dash of drama to even the dullest exterior. And due to their portable nature you can move them around as and when required. And don’t panic; you don’t have to be an expert horticulturist to achieve good results. Many plant genus these days are bred specifically to challenge even the most difficult weather conditions. Choose hardy plants to act as decorating “accents” against neutrally painted siding, pillars or walls.
Finding extra function
The list of purposes your outdoor areas can serve is endless. We’ve dressed many gardens as comfy dining areas and we’ve attired others as secondary warm weather living zones. If you install safety gates to enclose young kids, decks make fabulous playrooms, of course under constant supervision.
It really isn’t that hard to make your outdoor space a welcoming and exciting haven. We’re all familiar with the term “bring the outdoors in” but perhaps these days, in light of how the gardening market has blossomed (if you’ll excuse the pun) maybe it’s finally time “to bring the indoors out!” Trowels at the ready —we’ll see you next time. Enjoy!
C&J's Top 10 Terraces Tips
1. Develop a strong visual relationship between inside and out.
2. Investigate building code and planning requirements BEFORE you start building.
3. Employ the services of an electrician and wire exernal lighting correctly—it’s important.
4. Position small in-ground spot lights at the side of steps and light back and front doors with sensors that fl ick to life as you approach.
5. Dress to impress —clever container planting is the simplest way to add style to outdoor space.
6. Accessorize! A few jaunty cushions will add “pop” to the plainest furniture while chunky decorative crockery will bring the most boring table to life!
7. Use stains that penetrate the wooden surface of your deck rather than those that simply sit on top of timber.
8. Clean out the debris that clogs grooves between deck boards. It will trap moisture and encourage mildew and rot.
9. Scan your neighbourhood for outdoors inspiration and take photos of those you like. Consider all your options and plot everything out on graph paper.
10. Adorn your space with flickering lights. Then get ready to host that candlelit supper —the one you’ve been promising your friends for ages! Pop cute wee tea lights into storm jars and light Citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay!