Although your Palm Beach landscape may be beautiful, are you making the best use of it? Properties that include well-designed outdoor living spaces are not only more enjoyable and useful, they’re also more valuable. But creating a tasteful and attractive outdoor space that fits your lifestyle is easier said than done.
In this article, we share six ways to incorporate outdoor living areas into your landscape so you can enjoy your time in Palm Beach any time of year.
6 Outdoor Living Space Ideas
1. Set Up Comfortable Seating Areas
Outdoor seating gives you and your guests the best opportunity to enjoy your property and spend time together in Palm Beach’s beautiful weather. The key is to choose the right style, material, and type of outdoor seating to meet your unique needs.
Outdoor Seating Options
The type of seating you choose should be based on how many people you want to seat and what they’ll be doing. For example, sharing a meal together requires different seating than lounging around the pool.
- Dining – Dining tables and chairs come in many sizes to accommodate different groups. There are small bistro sets for two people, large tables that can seat ten or more, and everything in between.
- Hammocks – Hammocks offer a unique place for you to relax. Many come with their own stands so can be moved whenever needed.
- Lounge seats – Lounge seating gives you and your guests a place to lie back and relax. These seats work well for sunbathing or spending time poolside.
- Sectional sofas – Great for larger gatherings, sectional sofas let you arrange and rearrange your seating as needed.
- Swivel chairs – Better for more spacious areas, swivel chairs let you turn in a circle to interact with those around you or take in the landscape.
- Armless chairs –Armless chairs are ideal when you need to fit more seats in a smaller area.
- Benches – Benches are a good option when you need to seat more people around a dining table.
- Armchairs and recliners – These are both versatile and comfortable seating options but recliners need much more space than other chairs.
Outdoor Seating Material Choices
Regardless of what seating style you choose, the materials of your outdoor furniture will dictate how long it will last and how you’ll need to take care of it.
- Metal – Metal seating, such as steel, aluminum, and iron, stands up well to wear and tear. The downside is that it can be heavy, steel and iron can rust (especially when exposed to salt), and it’s often uncomfortable to sit on unless upholstered seat cushions are added. Metal often requires more maintenance than other options.
- Wood – Wooden seating, such as teak, is often elegant and inviting. This material is also relatively wear- and weather-resistant, depending on the type of wood and the finish. If you let wood weather naturally, it won’t need much upkeep. Stained, painted, varnished, and oiled wood furniture will require regular maintenance.
- Plastic or resin – Plastic outdoor furniture has come a long way since the days of white, molded chairs that quickly degraded. Newer options mimic the look of wood, rattan, wicker, and even metal, and are sturdy and long-lasting, requiring very little upkeep beyond the occasional wash.
- Upholstery – Upholstered outdoor furniture is often the most comfortable option. Some outdoor fabrics are even waterproof although filler materials for cushions and pillows may not be water-resistant. It’s best to keep upholstered furniture in a covered space to prevent it from getting too wet, which can lead to mold and mildew.
A Few More Considerations for Planning Outdoor Seating
To ensure your seating are meets your needs, consider the following:
- Number of people – This will give you an idea of how many seats you should include and what type of seating it should be.
- Activities – If you expect people to play games or eat while they sit, include other outdoor furniture pieces like a small table in your seating area. A few well-placed side tables allow guests to put down their beverages and food while keeping them within reach.
- Location – It’s often best to make your seating areas easily accessible from your house and other important outdoor areas. You should also situate seating areas where you’ll be protected from excessive sun exposure, rain, and strong winds.
- Definition – Plants, walls, and even rugs can add definition to your seating spaces and make them feel cozier.
2. Outdoor Kitchens
Building an outdoor kitchen is a fantastic way to bring all the joy of cooking and eating to your backyard. Many people are familiar with grilling in the backyard, but an outdoor kitchen offers so much more.
When building an outdoor kitchen, some of the features and components you’ll want to add include:
- One or more cooking elements, such as a built-in grill, pizza oven, rotisserie, smoker, or griddle
- A sink for easy cleanup
- Refrigerators to keep beverages and food cold (guest always appreciate a well-stocked beverage fridge)
- Storage for cooking utensils, serving platters, glasses, plates, etc.
- Counter space for food prep and serving
- Overhead lighting to illuminate the area, as well as spot lighting to see what you’re cooking
- Areas to sit and eat
Outdoor Kitchens are for Cooking and Gathering
You’ll find that an outdoor kitchen is much more than a place to prepare meals; it’s often a popular gathering place as well.
The ideal outdoor kitchen makes it easy to cook efficiently while allowing guests to spend quality time anticipating and enjoying the food. As such, your outdoor kitchen should include two main spaces:
- A food preparation area – This area should have plenty of open floor space to move around in and give you easy access to appliances, countertops/workspaces, storage, etc.
- A seating and dining area – Besides a dining table and seating, think about making room for additional seating areas, such as a comfortable outdoor sofa where guests can relax with a drink without interfering with cooking.
3. Space for Games and Entertainment
While some homeowners prefer their backyard to be a peaceful oasis, others want their landscape to be a more active space. These ideas make your outdoor area a place for entertainment and games:
- Outdoor movie theater – You’ll need an open space where you can set up a projector and screen, such as on a lawn. Or have a retractable screen and overhead projector built into a covered area near the house. And don’t forget comfortable seating (maybe even outdoor recliners!).
- Bocce court – Bocce courts need ample level space; they’re often 60 feet long by 12 feet wide.
- Putting green – Putting greens require regular maintenance to keep the grass short and healthy. But for an avid golfer, they’re worth the effort. Or consider one with synthetic turf for lower maintenance.
- Fireplace and/or a fire pit – Keep firepits and fireplaces in areas where there are no overhanging plants or roof structures to avoid a fire hazard. Built-in seating or comfortable chairs around it will encourage you to enjoy it more frequently.
4. Private Areas
Privacy is an important part of any outdoor living space. Avoid prying eyes, unwanted noise (from roads or neighbors), and unsightly views with one of these options:
- Fences – With many styles to choose from, you can select the level of privacy you want while making sure that it’s in keeping with the overall style of your home and property.
- Hedges – Hedges take a while to grow in, but the foliage (and blossoms, depending on which plants you use) creates a sense of privacy while adding to the beauty of your landscape.
- Garden walls – A garden wall provides a strong visual barrier between properties but requires a more in-depth construction process.
Creating privacy is also a matter of where you locate your outdoor living spaces. When possible, take advantage of existing elements, like plants or buildings, that can give you the privacy you want without needing to install new walls, hedges, or fences.
>> Learn more about ways to create privacy in your yard
5. Protect Outdoor Living Spaces from the Elements
To ensure that exposure to the elements won’t ruin your time outside, consider using these forms of outdoor protection.
Consistently warm temperatures are a compelling reason to enjoy the outdoors all year in Palm Beach. However, there are times when Florida’s hot season and intense sun can be almost unbearable. If you want to use and enjoy your landscape all year, consider these ways to provide shade.
- Pergolas – Pergolas make a statement in the landscape and create a filtered light. If you grow vines on your pergola, you’ll get more shade.
- Shade sails – Shade sails are usually permanent fixtures stretched above your outdoor spaces. Available in multiple colors, they create light shade and define your seating area.
- Curtains – Outdoor curtains provide shade, add privacy, and can be a beautiful design feature to enhance and define your outdoor rooms.
- Shade trees – Tall trees offer a natural way to add shade to your outdoor living spaces. Place seating in the shade of existing trees or plant a tree nearby that will eventually develop a shade-creating canopy.
- Tents – You can use pop-up tents or cabanas if you are planning an event. These options give you temporary shade for warm-weather get-togethers.
- Umbrellas – From simple beach umbrellas to large, cantilevered models, umbrellas provide shade on demand. Just be sure to take them down before windy weather moves in!
- Motorized screens and awnings – Retractable, motorized screens and awnings on your home, pool house, ramada, or other structures let you shade an area when needed.
Block Strong Winds
The same elements that give you privacy will also help block strong winds. Begin by determining the direction from which wind usually passes through your yard. For those in Palm Beach, the strongest winds often come from the ocean. Then place a wall, fence, or hedge between the source of wind and your outdoor living spaces. Earthen berms can also help reduce wind gusts on your property.
Cover from Precipitation
Overhead coverage can prevent rain from ruining your time outside. Try using one of these items to keep your outdoor areas dry:
- Awnings – Retractable awnings are a great option here as you can choose to deploy them only when needed.
- Tents – For events, tents give excellent temporary coverage from the rain.
- Pergolas or ramadas with roofs – There are many roof designs that will keep your seating area dry.
6. Outdoor Lighting
Outdoor lighting can make your landscape spaces much safer at night and can make your property look stunning even when the sun is down. But general landscape lighting, such as wall and post lights, doesn’t always create the ambiance you want in outdoor living spaces. Instead, try some of these options:
- Overhead lights – From a simple string of twinkle lights to an outdoor chandelier, overhead lighting can be used for almost any lighting need.
- Downlights and floodlights – These lights are great for areas that need high visibility, like an outdoor kitchen.
- Floor and table lamps – Many of these lamps mimic indoor lighting, giving you the flexibility to design an outdoor space that fits your style while providing light wherever you need it.
- Lanterns and candles – We suggest LED outdoor candles (there’s no fire risk and the wind won’t blow them out!).
And don’t forget lighting to make your landscape look fantastic while enjoying your outdoor living area at night. For instance, uplighting highlights appealing focal points like fountains and specimen trees.
Tips for Your Next Outdoor Living Space
To make any of these ideas a reality, there are a few more tips to help you get the most out of your outdoor living space.
Consider How You Want to Use Your Outdoor Living Space
While many design ideas have their merits, the one that is best for you will be the one that suits your lifestyle. Some homeowners will most enjoy a quiet and relaxing space, while others may want space to play—only you know which is best for you and those who will use your outdoor spaces.
Do What You Can with the Space You Have
Consider the size of your space and the types of activities it can support. Maybe you only have space for a small seating area or café-style dining set, rather than an outdoor sofa or full-size dining table. What’s most important is to avoid forcing more into your space than it can reasonably hold.
Remember Regular Landscape Maintenance
The early stages of dreaming up and creating an outdoor living space are exciting. But ongoing landscape maintenance is what will keep those spaces inviting and usable for years to come.
That’s where estate gardening services like those provided by Coastal Gardens in Palm Beach come in. Their landscaping professionals will care for your property, including the outdoor living areas, over the long term so you can relax and spend more quality time enjoying your time outdoors.
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With Coastal Gardens, you can rest easy knowing that your property is taken care of by a dedicated team of estate landscape professionals who truly care about creating and maintaining a dazzling outdoor space you can be proud of.