Architecture & Design // 5 min Read

Creating Your Perfect Outdoor Retreat

Written by Deborah Van Plew

May 19, 2020

Brought to you by 501 South Studio - the interior Designers of Court Atkins Group. Photos by J. Savage Gibson Photography.

Now more than ever outdoor spaces are important extensions of the living and dining areas of a home. Whether you’re dreaming of a brand-new outdoor living space or eager to revamp a tired patio, planning ahead is key to creating outdoor living that is both beautiful and functional.

There are a lot of things to consider when planning your perfect outdoor living space. The first step is thinking about how you intend to use your outdoor retreat. Are you envisioning large parties outside? Or do you foresee it as a family gathering space that lets everyone lounge and dine together? Perhaps you dream of a personal retreat with a quiet, private setting? Think about the type of space you desire and then decide if it favors more of a gathering place or a getaway space. This is a great first step that will help you plan for the type of furniture needed and its placement to ensure spaces are inviting and comfortable.

Once you’ve decided on the functionality of your outdoor space, choosing the location is the next important step in designing a successful outdoor retreat. While most outdoor living spaces are adjacent to the house, they do not have to be. If you plan to use your space for dining, the kitchen should be easily accessible. However, a getaway spot, in addition to an entertaining space, can be located in a more secluded location on your property. Check out vantage points to determine location and orientation for the best furniture placement.

The way you choose to decorate your home is a reflection of your personal style. While incorporating your individual tastes in outdoor spaces, remember to also consider the exterior of your house. Choose fabrics and finishes that complement the color and style of your house. It is also good to keep in mind that you will see your outdoor living spaces from inside the house and out in the yard as well.

Bring some life to your outdoor oasis with plants. Yes, you are outdoors, surrounded by plants, but adding trees, flowers, and other greenery, whether simple or complex, will enhance the time you spend outdoors, and also provide dimension, color, and texture to your retreat. Not big on landscaping? Go the low-maintenance route by grouping pots and containers with different heights and types of greenery that are easy to care for.

Finally, think about the extras. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit provides evening appeal. A water feature adds ambiance and helps block street noise. Landscape lighting is lovely after the sun goes down, and a well placed trellis or market umbrella offers a shield from the hot summer sun.

As you plan, don’t get caught up on the details too early. Decide on the type of outdoor space you want and then go from there. And remember, even though it is outdoors, this space is part of your home so have fun with the design and make it yours!