Backyard Oasis: Outdoor Living at its Best

Prep your outdoor space to make the most of summertime enjoyment.

The weather is heating up, and now’s the time to prep your outdoor space. Whether you’re entertaining guests or simply enjoy being alfresco, you won’t regret the time, effort and resources you put into revamping your patio, balcony or deck.

Outdoor Living

Consumers love spending time outside, with 83% of American households saying they have an outdoor living space. That’s according to a survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, conducted for the American Home Furnishings Alliance and International Casual Furnishings Association.

The survey found consumers’ No. 1 priority was improving the comfort of their outdoor spaces (47%), followed by enhancing the space’s functionality (30%) and its style/aesthetics (23%).

Patio Focal Point

Melissa and Izzy Ortiz showcase their patio renovation on their Instagram page, livandmarket. He’s a handyman, and she’s a registered nurse. Together, they’re home decor and DIY experts, and their combined efforts resulted in a “backyard oasis” on a budget. The couple purchased secondhand items they bought on OfferUp, a mobile marketplace.

They say it’s important for an outdoor space to have a focal point. “For us, since our backyard is a little smaller, the easy choice was our fireplace, but for some people that could mean a fountain,” says Melissa, noting she added blankets and plants to section off that area and draw a visitor’s eye to the fireplace.

When guests come over, the couple lights a fire and everyone roasts marshmallows. They set up a cozy seating area for comfortable gatherings, as well as a 14-foot dining table for meals.

“We have a lot of family and friends that live nearby, so having a designated space for us to all come together and have a meal was really important to us,” she says.

The couple made sure to add lots of visual interest, texture and finishing touches, such as plants, string lights, tea lights and candles. Ortiz says these inexpensive elements, as well as extras like pillows and blankets, can have a big impact in creating a warm, inviting space.

Outdoor Investment

Ideally, outdoor spaces are both pretty and practical. Regular lawn maintenance is an effective way to keep the area manicured. Synthetic turf and outdoor rugs can dress up the space, too.

Use a garden trellis to add visual interest and create privacy for your patio. Awnings and umbrellas can provide shade and a pop of color to your decor.

Next, consider hardscapes, such as fire pits, outdoor kitchens and water features, which are functional and can boost the appeal of an outdoor space. Then, think about lighting options.

“By adding lighting to your patio, balcony or deck, your home looks well-cared-for while improving the property’s security,” says Joe Raboine, director of residential hardscapes at Belgard, a company that manufactures outdoor living essentials for the patio.

He says LED lights and motion sensors are energy-efficient and can make a home safer. Boost illumination opportunities with built-in lighting such as column lights and paver lights. The inviting glow helps make the outdoor space cozy for homeowners and guests.

When it comes to furnishing your deck, make sure the materials are durable and ready for the outdoors. Choose outdoor fabrics for cushions, pillows and umbrellas, as well as weather-resilient materials. For example, fashionable faux wood sets can withstand sun, rain and snow, without showing signs of wear and tear.

Melissa Ortiz advises keeping things classic and a fit for your style. Ask yourself if you’ll love the look in a few years. “Ultimately, the goal is to create a space that you can enjoy,” she says. “As long as you love it, that’s all that matters.”

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