Editor’s Note: As the three-day Memorial Day weekend kicks off, we thought we’d take a look back at some of our great stories about outdoor living in North Texas. First up: Five tips for outdoor living spaces, originally published in 2015.
By Leah Shafer
Transforming backyards into additional living spaces is a growing trend in North Texas. Even the hottest summer day turns into a pleasant evening, and the other three seasons are mild.
Upgrading outdoor living spaces can range in investment. A higher-end renovation and finish-out could include utilizing a professional designer and contractor to implement adding structures like cabanas, swimming pools, built-in kitchens, and covered patios. A DIY project could include updates to existing structures and surfaces that homeowners can implement themselves.
We talked to Nicole Arnold, who owns a full-service Dallas interior design firm, Nicole Arnold Interiors, recognized as a Dallas Top 10 Design firm and a Best of Houzz in 2014 and 2015 for customer satisfaction.
She’s worked with many homeowners to create cool, comfortable outdoor living spaces that work with the rest of their home’s design.
“In a lot of cases, these outdoor retreats are visible from a main living area inside your home—therefore, make sure they look on par with the rest of your home, and, ideally, a natural extension of your interior style,” Arnold said. “Of course there’s a wide spectrum of upgrades and accouterments available to personalize your particular space, make it aesthetically pleasing, comfortable and functional.”
Read on to see her top 5 tips for accentuating an outdoor living space, regardless of the scope of your project.
1. What goes outside should belong outside
Ensure what is placed outside is sustainable, particularly furnishings. Teak, cast aluminum, or weather rated wicker (actually a PVC product) will hold up best. Cushions should be of Sunbrella or other outdoor-rated fabrics to prevent fading and mildew. Furniture covers are always a good idea, even when you have a covered porch. They can keep critters away as well as protect against our occasional sideways rainstorms.
2. Make it bright
Adequate lighting is imperative to fully enjoy evening functions. Illuminate with overhead lighting such as recessed cans in a solid ceiling, string lights in an open ceiling, as well as indirect light from outdoor rated lamps on end tables. Candles can be beautiful when you can keep them lit amidst our wonderful Texas breeze, in which case hurricane globes help tremendously.
3. Don’t forget the rug
A foundational piece in any outdoor setting is a rug. There are so many options available in today’s market that an outdoor rug has become an easy find! There are bright colored floral or geometric prints that can “pop” a space and offset neutral colored furniture, as well as nice natural looking sisal designs give a quiet softness to a more organic and neutral theme. Ensure that a good outdoor rug pad is used to prevent mildew. If mildew does occur, a gentle bleach and water solution can usually be used safely to remove discoloration.
4. Comfort is key
Staying cool can be a challenge in our Texas heat, so things like outdoor water misters around a patio ceiling perimeter, or ceiling fans, can help tremendously. Depending on the direction your patio faces, there will be a time of the day (or sometimes two) that the sun will bear down to the point of preventing you from enjoying your space. Some great solutions for that are outdoor curtains that can be drawn closed (also adding a layer of softness and/or a pop of color to your living area), woven wood shades or a mesh style shade. Any of these solutions can be manual for the more discerning budget or automated for the most convenient use.
5. Plants add color and texture
Landscaping can be that final punctuation mark on your outdoor retreat that achieves the look you desire. Container plants, trees and flowerbeds add a variety of color and texture to perfectly complement the hard nature of stone patios, brick walls and wooden structures. Succulents in containers on a tabletop make great heat tolerant additions and it’s easy to consult your local nursery to discover which other foliage will work best in your particular exposure.
Regardless of the extent of the upgrade you choose to do, your space should be aesthetically pleasing, functional and comfortable, but most of all, a space you can truly enjoy.