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Whether you live in a house, condo, or an apartment, you probably have some outdoor space. From a lush but boring lawn to a barren balcony, you probably have something. However, knowing how to spruce up that space can be challenging. Especially if you’re limited in terms of actual square footage or money. Here are some tips:

Come up with a plan.
Whenever you simply begin throwing paint around or purchasing furniture and accessories without any thing more than a vague vision in your mind, you run the risk of ending up with a space that embodies the term hodge-podge. This goes for an indoor and an outdoor space. Before you get down to the nitty gritty, take some time to think it through. Come up with a clear image of what you want the space to look like. Do some research into materials, prices, and the like. Having a plan will ensure you get the gorgeous outdoor area you deserve.

When you’re planning, consider what you want to get out of the space.
Do you want your outdoor space to be an area for partying the night away or an outdoor retreat for relaxation? Knowing what you want to get out of the space will help you design it properly. For example, if you want to relax rich, comfortable fabrics and materials will be ideal while if you want to entertain you’ll want to make sure to have plenty of seating.

Designing Your Great Outdoors
Photo Credit: Amy Kimball Events

Take into account the elements.
When planning your outdoor space you’ll want to think about how much sun, wind, and water the area is regularly exposed to. If you get a lot of sun you’ll want to make sure all the materials are fade resistant so your space won’t look dull after just a season or two. In addition, you’ll want to find ways to work in shade such as an umbrella, gazebo, awning, or trellis. If you live a rainy area you want to make sure all of the materials you use are mold, mildew, and rust resistant and possibly consider screening in part or all of the space to make it more usable. If you have your fair share of wind you’ll want to make sure your accessories and furniture are weighted down. For example, get cushions that actually tie to the chairs to keep them from blowing around.

Think about the neighborhood.
Another important element to consider when designing your outdoor space is the noise level. Do you live next to a busy road? Do you have noisy neighbors? If noise is a concern there are a couple of things you can do. One, use landscaping to act as a natural sound barrier – trees are great for this. Two, install a water feature because the sound of running water will act as white noise and drown out other (less pleasant) sounds.

Designing Your Great Outdoors
Photo Credit: Rocky Mountain Rock and Trucking

Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Your outdoor space is an extension of your indoor space and should express your personal tastes. Use colors and textures that you enjoy. Outdoor materials including furniture and area rugs come in a wide variety of patterns and colors. If you can’t find the exact shade your looking for, many materials (ex. wicker) can be painted or spray painted.

Designing Your Great Outdoors
Photo Credit: Houzz

Getting creative is especially important if you’re working on a limited budget, with a small space, or with a rented space. For example, if you rent, you may not have electrical outlets in your outdoor space and because you rent, you may not be permitted to add them. Luckily, there are a variety of lighting fixtures and options that run on batteries alone.

If you are dealing with a small space, you’ll want to get furniture that serves multiple purposes such as an ottoman that can serve as an extra seat or with a lid that flips over to make a coffee table. Furniture pieces with casters are great too because they allow you to move things around to fit different purposes. Casters come in all different styles and colors so don’t worry about them looking too industrial or utilitarian; here are some great caster options. All in all, just remember that when you run into an obstacle, don’t give up – just think outside the box.

Designing Your Great Outdoors
Photo Credit: Decoration Trend

Put natural features to good use.
Before you start constructing your outdoor space, take a good look at the natural features the space offers. Sometimes brining in a second (or even third) pair of eyes can help you spot things you’ve overlooked or grown accustomed to. For instance, a hill or raised area can be an excellent place for seating or a gazebo because it offers a good view of the rest of the space. A tree can serve as natural shade or an extended tree branch can be used to hang a chandelier from.

Designing Your Great Outdoors
Photo Credit: House Beautiful

Keep your budget in mind.
Know what your budget is from the beginning. There are things you can do to keep your costs down. For example, buy patio furniture in the off season when stores are offering great clearance deals. In addition, you can do some landscaping (ex. mowing the lawn) yourself. Another idea is to build your outdoor space in stages rather than doing it all in once. For instance, maybe the first season you do some major landscaping, the next you purchase one or two pieces of furniture, and the third season you purchase a few more items.

Written by Janet Majors