So you like the idea of incorporating outdoor living into your lifestyle. And the concept of creating unique outdoor spaces intrigues you. But maybe you’re a bit unsure about how you might go about separating your yard into outdoor rooms. Don’t worry; it’s a lot simpler than you might think.
You’ve been living in rooms all your life, right? So you already know the basic elements that make up a room. There’s always a ceiling and a floor, and usually there are walls, halls and doorways. And if a room is to be at all functional, then it includes the furnishings and necessary trappings that allow the room to serve its purpose. And let’s not forget style. We all like to spruce up our living spaces with things that are attractive and meaningful to us. These are all ideas you can easily relate to. So let’s take them outside.
When you’re outdoors, ceilings are optional. Part of the concept of outdoor living is enjoying all that nature has to offer, including a beautiful blue sky, wispy or fun shaped clouds, and of course, twinkling stars in the evening. And if you have a pool (or even if you don’t), you’re probably going to want to have a sunning spot close by.
Sometimes though, you want a ceiling. An outdoor ceiling will provide shade and shelter from the elements. And for the purpose of defining the boundaries of an outdoor room, a ceiling works beautifully.
Some houses come with pre-existing, permanent outdoor ceilings. If you’ve got a covered porch or patio, you’ve already got an outdoor room ready to be furnished. Our property includes a barn with an attached carport. In the winter, we actually park under this structure so we don’t have to clear the ice and snow off the cars. During the rest of the year, however, this space is transformed into a covered patio. I put down an outdoor rug, arrange seating and side tables, add a bit of décor and lighting, and I’ve created a shady, attractive, semi-private entertainment area. This is also one of the spots where I set up my portable outdoor office.
There are plenty of other ways that you can separate an outdoor room using shade and shelter, just let your imagination guide you. You can find various styles of portable and permanent cabanas, and there are stationary and retractable awnings as well as canvas canopies. Sunshade sails are a colorful new and exciting way to define shady outdoor rooms, and let’s not forget the classic summery look of outdoor umbrellas.
More and more people nowadays are choosing to erect pergolas, either standing alone to beautifully provide a bit of light shade, or with fiberglass, canvas or even vines or ivy trained over them for deeper shade. In fact, vines trained over just about any overhead framed structure will provide similar effects – it just depends upon your taste and the function of the structure. And don’t underestimate the ability of shade trees to frame a unique outdoor room.
Let’s talk about outdoor floors. Most yards already have a natural green carpet. Grass is probably the most common outdoor flooring element, and is perfect for some outdoor rooms, but not so much for others. If you’ve got kids, or if you’re a kid at heart, a large expanse of grass will provide a playing or practice field for numerous sports and games. Another aspect of using grass as outdoor flooring material is that it separates other outdoor rooms. For instance, a stretch of grass between a pool area and an outdoor kitchen perfectly defines the two areas as distinct and separate outside living spaces.
Grass as outdoor flooring however, requires a fair amount of maintenance, especially if you’re defining a high traffic area. And if you’ve got outdoor furniture sitting on grass, you’re gonna have to move it every time you mow. And yes, we are outdoors, so of course we can expect a bit of fauna flying or crawling around here and there. But it’s nice if your outdoor kitchen sits on some kind of hardscape so you don’t have too many ants living in your kitchen floor.
The choice of hardscaping materials for outdoor flooring is as diverse as any outdoor aficionado could dream of. Whatever your budget or style, you can find hardscape to create the look and feel you want in your yard. There’s gravel, concrete, mosaic tiles, mosaic pebbles, flagstone, fieldstone, cut stone, natural stone, cobblestone, brick, cement, asphalt, and numerous varieties of wood and mulch. Patches or stretches of ground cover or flower beds make for excellent yard divisions as well, and if you plant ground cover amid your hardscape floors, they’ll add even more visual impact and completely change the style. Simply by varying the materials under your feet and outside furniture, you can instantly distinguish one outdoor room from another.
Read How to Separate Your Yard Into Outdoor Rooms, Part Two for more ideas on defining and separating outdoor rooms, including walls, halls and doorways.