There are lots of ways to enjoy your outdoor living space (otherwise known, in unromantic terms, as your “back yard”). You might install a beautiful patio with the best grill you can find. You might build a koi pond for afternoon pond-gazing. You might even add a pool, or a lawn area for playing ball.
But few things will transform your outdoor experience the way the right seating will. Why seating? Because the one thing that a really great patio, pond, pool, lawn, or just about any other outdoor area has in common is great seating.
What would your pool be without the right seating from which to sunbathe, relax, or enjoy the kids? What would a patio and grill be without a place to sit and enjoy the fruits of your labor with family or friends? What would a pond be without a place to sit and let its soothing presence fill your soul?
Seating is a complement to just about any outdoor area, with the unique ability of being able to transform the essence and functionality of the space.
The right seating can get you outdoors more, by providing you with a place to do what you might ordinarily do indoors: eat, sip a cup of coffee, read a book, meditate, chat with a friend, or yes, even watch TV or play a round of poker on your phone (or for real!)
The right seating is an invitation to relax, join the fun, stay awhile.
Convinced yet that seating is important for how you use and enjoy your back yard? Then try these ideas for creating great seating in every area of your space.
Treat The Outdoors As You Would Your Living Room
The best way to turn a back yard into an outdoor living space is to treat it as such – with the same care and attention to comfort and functionality that you give to your living room. Think of your back yard as simply another room in your house, but one with the sky above for a ceiling.
Whatever feels inviting to you inside will work just as well outside. Comfortable furniture is a great place to start. And what says “living room” better than seating?
Skip the wrought iron chairs, as lovely as they are. Choose them for their decorative aesthetic (or for other functions, like table seating), but for real sit-down stay-awhile appeal, think in terms of cushioned sofas, deep arm chairs, pleasing textures and colors. There are plenty of waterproof options if you’re worried about the weather, but don’t limit yourself only to what can withstand a summer storm. It takes almost no effort at all to design ample storage right into your space, where you can easily stow less weatherproof items as needed.
Without those self-imposed limitations, you can be a bit more creative and make your seating area exponentially more inviting. Think soft, colorful pillows, and cozy throw blankets. Just imagine how much more relaxing a bit of evening Netflix would be as you watch from under the stars on your comfy outdoor sofa.
Don’t neglect the complementary furniture, either. The tables for beverages and snacks, the potted plants for accents, the candles and other accessories for warmth. But at the center of it all, a place to sit, cuddle up and enjoy your new room.
Make It Private
If the outdoors feels a bit overwhelming, with too much open air to be cozy and comfortable, then that just means the seating area hasn’t been designed properly! You may be perfectly content with a wide open pool area, loungers open to the sky and sun, but for dinner parties or afternoon relaxation, you’d probably prefer something more intimate, something more *yours*.
No matter how open the space, there’s no need to spend your time there feeling like a zoo animal on display for the neighbors! Even the most confined, urban yards can be turned into a tiny oasis with the right seating and privacy design.
Screening in the form of bamboo is one idea, and can transform a garden tea into a private afternoon retreat. Trees, shrubs, and tall grasses can all be planted to strategically enclose a seating area, whether that area is an outdoor sofa, a picnic spot, or a small bistro table for two.
Want something even more “room-like”? You can, just about literally, build a room within your outdoor space. Trellises, pergolas and arbors are all ideal ways to separate a seating area not only from the rest of the space but from the rest of the world.
It’s like bringing the indoors outside, with the added benefit of fresh air, gorgeous scenery and the opportunity to reconnect with Mother Nature’s calming qualities.
Decide Where You Want To Sit
Have you ever strolled through a beautiful garden and wanted to stop and smell the flowers, but found yourself with nothing to do but hover in one area for a while before moving on? The problem was probably a lack of seating!
If you’ve gone through the trouble of creating a beautiful space, then don’t forget to give yourself the opportunity to enjoy it. If there’s a spot that you love in the morning, consider how seating can provide you with a place to enjoy your first cup of coffee. If there’s a spot that catches the last rays of the setting sun, consider how seating can help you wring the most out of the day.
If seating is designed around the places you want to be most, then you’re more likely to actually spend time in those places. Think about how seating can help you appreciate your flower garden more often, enjoy your pond more fully, or simply spend time doing more of what you love in a beautiful environment.
Decide *Why* You Want To Sit
Different seating areas serve different purposes. One may be conducive to a cup of coffee and another to a full dinner. One may be just right for quiet time with a book, another for spending time with friends.
How might each of these be defined? For starters, remember what we said about treating your outdoor space the same as you would your indoor space. When you want to curl up with a good book, for example, do you want to do it on the wooden bench in the mudroom, or on the overstuffed chair in the den? Whatever works inside, bring it out.
A cozy, single-seater in a nook (with some of those great pillows and a throw blanket) may be perfect for some alone time. A simple trio of chairs around a small table or even a fire pit can be a great spot for an intimate gathering. A long picnic table bordered by natural screening on one side and some beautiful potted plants on another will make larger dinner parties both private and welcoming.
There’s no reason to limit your space to only only type, either. Even small spaces can be designed to have multiple seating areas. In fact, the more uniquely purposeful seating areas that you can design, the more ways will open up for you to enjoy and spend time in your outdoor space.
Light It Up
Next to seating, outdoor lighting may be the single best thing you can do to make your outdoor space livable – and gorgeous. Lighting can instantly transform the mood of a space from dark and shadowy to magical and inviting. And it can enhance how you use your seating areas to enjoy your space.
There are so many ways to use lighting that we can’t cover them all here! But to name a few that can be especially transformative within a seating area, you can try ground lighting (think pathways and patio edges, but also in the form of lanterns on the patio or ground around your seating area); moonlighting (lights placed high up in trees or in arbors that simulate the real thing); string lighting (those whimsical, romantic lights strung informally overhead); under-seat lighting (quite literally, lighting attached to the underside of benches or other seating to illuminate it gently from beneath), and plenty more.
Turn a bistro table into an outdoor evening café with the right lighting. Use hanging lights, from strings to lanterns, for a party atmosphere. Add underwater lighting to your pond or waterfall so you can sit and enjoy the shimmering, enchanting view created by water and light.
Whatever the mood, from celebration and energy to romance and relaxation, you can create it with lighting. Add seating, and you’ve just turned your back yard into an outdoor living room that you’ll want to spend time in – day and night.
If you’d like to see how the right outdoor seating can transform your yard into a living space, get in touch with us for a consultation. We’ll help you dream, imagine, and plan everything from the furniture to the surrounding landscape and lighting. Together we can turn your back yard into an outdoor room!