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Blissful Outdoor Living

14 creative ways to make your terrace, patio, or backyard an outdoor oasis

From stunning scenic views of the sea to intimate backyard barbeques, an outdoor living area is an extension of your home. It can often be overlooked and become a graveyard of thrown-together odds and ends, flea market furniture, and leftover indoor things that don’t fit anywhere else. Many homeowners are also reluctant to spend a lot of money on creating a great outdoor space, since it’s exposed to the elements most of the time.

Whether you’re wanting a private space to enjoy on your own with a zen-like tranquillity or an easy place to invite friends and family over to enjoy drinks and get-togethers, these tips will help you transform your outdoor area into the space you’ve always dreamed of.

  1. Play up Nature

When planning an outdoor space, take a look around. What is already in your backyard that you can capitalise on for your own use? If the natural landscape is full of towering palm trees offering shade, don’t get your heart set on a sunbathing paradise.

Perhaps bougainvillea plants are thick and provide a natural privacy barrier that can serve as a fence for your pool? Whatever Mother Nature has provided, use that as a cue for how your space can naturally fit into the landscape. This approach can also help determine how you plan your space.

  1. Weather Ready

The outdoors is naturally vulnerable to the brutal Caribbean sun as well as rain, wind, and animals. Just like taking the natural foliage into account, make sure your outdoor area isn’t fighting an uphill battle against the elements. Choose furniture and fabrics that can ‘weather the weather’ as well as keeping any accents low-profile and unlikely to blow off a table or ledge.

  1. Add a Splash of Colour

An easy way to add colour to your patio or yard is with plants and planters. Flowers provide natural colour, while choosing brightly coloured pots and planters adds lasting vibrancy wherever you want it. Changing the pots out may be simpler than needing to continually replant blooming foliage.

  1. Blur Lines Between Indoors and Out

Create a seamless transition from your indoor living space to outdoors by making a clear path with pavers—rock or wood. Outdoor areas that are the most easily accessible are likely to be used regularly!

  1. Use Space Wisely

No matter how much space you have to work with, using it in a practical way can help you make the most of the outdoor area while also helping you get more out of the space. Think about how you want each area to be used and make it clear which areas are for sitting and chatting versus eating or taking in the view. Furniture ‘zones’ make this easier, as would curtains or other cordoned-off areas. Larger pillows and furniture can actually make a small area appear bigger.

  1. Appreciate the View

Nobody likes a patio that doesn’t allow for enjoying the stunning Caribbean view. Don’t forget that imbibing the view should be a major decision-making point as you plan your space. Blocking the scene with furniture or plants defeats the purpose. Instead, strategically orient the view as a side or front-facing focal point.

  1. Natural Materials

In addition to working with the natural flora and fauna that are already present, natural materials like wood, glass, metal, and bamboo will create a more seamless transition from indoors to out.

  1. Light it Up

The summer parties don’t stop once the sun goes down. Lighting an outdoor area can be as simple as placing battery-operated lanterns in places where people gather or as extravagant as hard-wiring lighting for the entire area. Solar lighting is also a great option for the outdoors, as lights can charge during the day and be ready for evening cocktails.

  1. Traffic Patterns

Be mindful of how you get to, from, and around your outdoor space. There is typically a ‘path of least resistance’ that gets used most, so marking it clearly with pavers can help show the way. Noticing other ways to get around the space can also aid you in determining where furniture would be helpful or hindering.

  1. Find Focus

A good ‘room’ will always have a focal point. Whether it’s a firepit, a water feature, or simply the fantastic view, this focal point will determine everything else in the outdoor area. How you orient your furniture and where people organically gather will become clear with a well-designed space.

  1. Seating Options

Offering a variety of places to sit will give guests options during get-togethers. A dining area can have all the same chairs, but seating areas can incorporate sofas, benches, chairs, stools, and even lounge pillows or poufs.

  1. Scenic Route

Create a sense of wonder in your backyard with winding paths that connect different spaces. A slight curve in the path forms a curious place to explore and makes people want to follow along to see what’s out there.

  1. Double Duty Furnishings

Your outdoor space has limitations in land ownership, so make sure the pieces you choose for the space have more than one function. Ottomans can serve as storage bins, and end tables can also serve as planters or places to put lighting. Longer lounge chairs that can lie flat double as bench seating for a crowd. When every piece in the space has multiple uses, it’s easy to invest in great furniture that makes an outdoor living area look and feel expensive.

  1. Balance View and Privacy

Enjoying the view is paramount, but nobody wants to feel exposed. Strategic plantings can add coverage to make some areas of the outdoor space feel more private. Large bushes or tall plants can shade a pool or sunbathing area, while a lattice screen encloses a space without sacrificing light.

A good outdoor oasis will evoke coherence and cohesiveness all the while feeling relaxed and easy. Finding balance is the key to easy outdoor living!

Sara Sherman
Sara Sherman is a former St. Thomas resident and the editor of Virgin Islands Property & Yacht.
Sara Sherman

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