As the weather warms and days stretch long, the outdoors come calling. More than just an additional space for lounging and entertaining, an outdoor room is an extension of the home. Whether it’s a refresh or a complete backyard transformation, here are five important tips from designer and One-Room Challenge participant Rebecca Plumb.
Rebecca is the founder of Studio Plumb, an interior design studio based in Sacramento, CA. She applied her expertise as an interior designer to this exterior project, keeping comfort and functionality at the forefront while adding special touches that make the space her own. Watch the video above or read on to see Rebecca’s finished outdoor room and hear her five tips for making an al-fresco area that everyone will be excited to use throughout warm-weather seasons.
Tip #1: Assess the space.
For an outdoor space, take stock of what is liked and disliked about it. In her large yard, Rebecca said she realized, “I felt very exposed—there was no containment, and it just didn’t feel comfortable.” One of her goals for the project was to create some borders around the dining space to help it feel more like a cozy room. With thoughtfully arranged lighting and furniture, you can create a natural flow. Dramatic uplights on trees, walls or fences around the perimeter are also a beautiful way to define the space.
Tip #2: Get the lighting right.
“To me, lighting really made the biggest difference out here,” Rebecca said. She combined several layers and lighting types: dotting the fence line with deck lights, a spotlight for a small tree grove, path lights along the walkway, and a dimmable pendant over the dining table for extra ambiance. The different layers help highlight the different areas and provide some flexibility when using the space at night.
Tip #3: Choose the style wisely.
Whether lighting, furniture or outdoor decor and accessories, select pieces for the home that will reflect the style, Rebecca recommends. She stuck with clean-lined fixtures that lent themselves to the clean design of her mid-century modern style home, then took a more decorative approach with pendant lighting that spoke to her personal taste.
Tip #4: Simplify where possible.
Don’t be afraid to take away what’s already there if it’s not working. Rebecca’s yard had plenty of beautiful foliage, but it wasn’t all serving the space. Taking out a giant shrub revealed a mini Redwood Tree grove that became a backdrop for one corner of the yard. And taking out a planter box opened the whole yard and helped the design of the different spaces all flow together.
Tip #5: Style, style, style.
Styling the inside of the home is one of the most fun parts of building a home. The outdoor room is no different. Pops of color, textures and varying sizes and shapes are a great way to add accents that showcase style and taste, Rebecca says.
These five tips should be enough to get that outdoor room project a needed boost. From adding lighting or furniture, to tearing out problematic plants and trees, the outdoor space will be dramatically changed in no time. Perhaps the most important advice Rebecca could give was saved to the end: “Just have fun with it.”