Identify an area that you can transform into your outdoor living space.
There are certain things you need to keep in mind when you choose the location of your new outdoor living space. First of all, you need to think about how you want to use the space; this will determine the size and to a certain extent, the materials of your little (or not-so-little) hideaway. Next you need to take note of how accessible this new space will be. If you intend to do a lot of eating and entertaining, then it would be wise to make sure the kitchen is within a convenient distance. Lastly, think about how private you want to the place to be. Once all these things are settled, you will have a clearer idea about how you will set up your new outdoor living space.
Create borders to set your alfresco space apart.
Without borders to define it, the area you want to designate for socializing can appear impersonal and uninviting. Worse, people may keep walking through it and past it without stopping to enjoy the special place you intended to create. With the careful placement of a few bushes or a trellis, you can keep this area protected from prying eyes and create a cozy haven away from the busy world. Some of the plants that can provide you with a dense, bushy shield are Arbovitae, evergreens, or flowering shrubs such as the Bluebeard. Visit your local nursery and check which specimens will work best for you.
Decide on the structure of your outdoor refuge.
Once you know how you will use your outdoor refuge, you can make your building plans. Your desire to enjoy the outdoors throughout the year can be addressed by a patio, a porch, a deck, or just a wide area paved with flagstones. Your structure will also be determined by your budget, the amount of work you are willing to undertake, and how long you intend the structure to last.
Decide on a theme. Patios, decks, and porches can accommodate a wide range of themes.
As long as your garden haven does not become a discordant note in relation to your house and grounds, you have considerable latitude in choosing the decor you will use for your alfresco area. For example, for a rustic, shabby chic area where everyone can relax, all you need is some crockery, some barn red paint, a table and chairs made in distressed wood finish, and a sliding door with barn door hardware.
Think about temperature control.
If you want maximum use of your patio (or deck or porch), make provisions for fans in summer and heaters when the cold weather comes. Fans don’t have to be permanent structures; there are plenty of portable fans you can use to make warm days more comfortable. There are also portable patio and deck heaters fueled by gas so that even when the nights become cold, you can spend time outdoors in comfort. You might want to install a flagstone fire pit or a fireplace that you can gather around. The idea is to provide warmth so that even when it’s cold, people can still congregate in the outdoor living space you have created.
Include a Roof.
A roof will allow you to use your outdoor area for longer periods during the day, and there are many ways that you can put up a roof or its equivalent. You can put in a permanent roof, or you can install a retractable awning, set up a parasol or two, or grow a vine such as bougainvillea to provide shelter. You can even make it possible to enclose the area with mosquito netting to prevent pesky insects from ruining your outdoor fun.
Your private living space can function as an extra living room, a spare dining area, or a place for entertaining. Best of all, this space can allow you to start your days serenely with a steaming cup of coffee and the birds for company.