With the arrival of warm weather (finally!), we are turning our attention to outdoor spaces both at work and home. Whether we have a postage-stamp size yard or a large, outdoor space adjacent to our offices, our outdoor environment is an important element of personal and corporate wellness.
An outdoor space that inspires, rejuvenates and works the way you envision is achieved only through good design and planning. Whether at home or the office, we all love beautiful hardscapes, the lushness of landscaping, and the magic of great lighting. It all looks so easy in a magazine, doesn’t it? Well, it can be easy by working with a certified design professional. Here are just some of the design principles that certified design professionals use to achieve inspiring outdoor spaces.
1. Think Through to the End
A great outdoor space is easy to achieve when you’ve decided how you want to use your space and what activities will happen outdoors. With forethought and careful planning, your designer will ensure your outdoor space meets your needs and becomes an inviting extension of your home or corporate brand.
2. Create a Focal Point
Well-designed indoor spaces – such as lobbies and living rooms – typically build off of one element which gives the eye something to land on, and is supported by the rest of the furnishings and accents. For a business, a focal point is an extension of your branding. This same principle applies to outdoor spaces.
3. Establish Traffic Patterns
No matter the size of your outdoor space, once the functions and activities of the space are determined, the traffic pattern is next. Your designer will show you the possibilities for how you can do this in a variety of ways, including the use of walkways, creating shifts in hardscape materials, or planting grasses, shrubs or trees to establish corners and borders.
4. Connect to the Indoors
Outdoor spaces that are easily accessible to indoor rooms are the most likely to get used. Your designer will ensure your design is in harmony with the indoor environment. As importantly, your designer will work closely with the contractor to ensure the integration of the design with the existing building is well-planned and within the budget.
5. Add a Fire Source
If you have a fireplace inside your house or have been to an outdoor event at a business, you know the fire source is where everybody loves to gather. It draws people together, creates the experience and is often the focal point for the space. Your designer will guide you through the placement and design of a fire source and the number of code, safety, and operational details that must be considered and incorporated into the design.
6. Include a Variety of Seating and Table Options
Properly designed and space-planned chairs, stools and/ or benches create flexibility for a variety of settings and “zones,” as well as uses for different occasions, both formal and intimate. Because space is often at a premium in outdoor areas, properly selected furniture can do double-duty. Benches may have storage space underneath; tables may also be containers.
7. Don’t Forget the “Layers”
It’s the “layering” of the final elements that makes your design holistic, and makes your outdoor space feel dynamic, interesting, and finished. Well-designed and selected plant-life, sculptures, water features, pots and containers of all shapes and sizes, and art, all add color, texture, and interest.
Eileen Isola, PMP
President, PVL Design Associates