Create an Outdoor Space that Knows its own Mind

It wont be long now friends – the weather will start to turn, there’ll  be a whiff of something warm in the air, the days will stretch longer  and we’ll all get a hankering for a change.

First place I’m starting – the great outdoors.

This pic I found on  Instagram  got me started and can’t stop looking it.

Now I don’t have a balcony or a view of any exotic looking buildings

What I do have is a great ugly back verandah that the dogs have the run of, It holds views of various rabbit cages, a  pumpkin vine gone wild  and a lawn that nearly always needs mowing.

Then I found this pic

Almost needed a lie down

My great lumping yard could totally do this !!

She might be a beauty yet.

These two pictures so different served to remind me of what counts in an out door space and its nothing to do with size or $

Its all to do with purpose

And  personality

So what do these two outdoor spaces have in common thats got me all fired up

They have what every self respecting out door space should have

1. Exposure to the elements

Some outdoor living area are so fortified against rain and wind and sun and God forbid a bit of dirt that you may as well be sitting inside.  Give me fresh air and sunlight, or a night sky and a cool breeze and I’ll take my chances in the elements with a decent sized beach umbrella.

I say out door spaces are meant to feel like there outside

2. A clear purpose

Neither are trying to be something they are not

Both play to their strengths

Balcony clearly says : cozy seating for 2-3. It also says “sit for a while, read a book and drink your cuppa in peace”. It’s not trying to be an outdoor eating/ BBQ/entertainment area. Its not trying to seat twenty.  They haven’t squeezed a mini bar in. The size dictates its ultimate purpose and it  plays to those limitations by making quiet and cozy the star of the show.

Leafy back yard on the other hand says:  “time for a party”. Its says “come as you are and leave your airs, graces and good clothes behind”.  It says “bring wine and a friend, we’ll be here a while”. You can almost smell the wood smoke and hear the hum of  conversations.  They have dirt for a floor and the sky for a ceiling, its rough, its outdoorsy, its mismatched but arranged with such purpose in mind that it says gather, stay long.

3. Good Lighting 

People will gravitate to light and warmth. It draws people in and around it.

Its subtly and soothing on the balcony and dramatic and compelling in the back yard.

It  speaks a universal language of welcome

4. Simplicity

They both  let just three main elements do all the talking

The balcony focuses on – good comfy seating – layers of greenery of different texture, colour and heights and a mix of lighting

Leafy backyard focuses on  – the decorative back wall – the curve of chippy old roadside find furniture and the atmospheric string lighting .

5. They both make the most of their limitations

Most balconies are smallish. This one looks tiny. A perfect reason to up the ante on the private cozy comfy factor.

Leafy back yard hasn’t let a shortage of grass or possibly money or even a lack of deck/patio type arrangement stop them creating an out door seating area just as good for gathering and eating and talking and laughing as the posh kind. What they have got a lot of is space and its creating cozy that might have been the challenge yet they’ve done it in spades  with the friendly arrangement of chairs, giving their room a back wall, and letting those lights droop and drape and sway.  It may not be everyones cup of tea but its inspiring what you can do with very little.

So I say

Start with what you’ve got.

Don’t try and make it something it’s not.

Decide what’s its for – let’s call it your outdoor space mission statement (OSMS)

Pick three things to do the heavy lifting

Celebrate your limitations – we all have them, its good practice

So if you think having an outdoor area requires this


Remember that this works just as well, maybe even better.

Picture Source: Thank you  Kristin Rogers

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