Consider function first-”If it doesn’t ultimately serve your objectives, it doesn’t matter how great your outdoor space looks,” says interior designer Jeff Curren. “One person may want to sit quietly and read outside; another may want to garden.

Keep traffic flowing- ”Inviting, well-laid paved paths or stepping stones lead you on a journey or allow you to gracefully get to an outdoor destination,”

Go vertical- Succulents are easy to grow on vertical surfaces even in arid climates. “You can also create a living fence by planting a row of tall, narrow thuja occidentalis trees, or create ‘walls’ with arbors, trellises, room dividers or fences,”

Cultivate a theme-“Ask yourself how you want to feel when in your outdoor space, then create that feeling with texture, pattern, color, shape and scale, using everything from furniture to planters to accessories.”

Stimulate the senses-“You can use plants to create artful swaths of color and texture. Play with just a few colors or textures for more effective impact and easy maintenance,” ”Lavender, geraniums, lemongrass, eucalyptus, catnip, basil, mint and many other plants will not only add a nice touch of color but they’ll also freshen the air with appealing fragrance as you and your guests brush past them,”

Bug off- Citronella candles and torches add light while chasing bugs away,” or dabbing on oil of lemon or donning light-colored clothing, which bugs have a hard time seeing. “Plants like chrysanthemums, basil, and mint also repel bugs,”

Accessorize!-”Just as with an outfit, an outdoor living space is not complete until you finish it off with a few accessories,”

Lighten up-“Use a variety of types of lighting—at least three sources of light is ideal—and keep it soft and out of your eyes. You want to see the glow of light but not the light source. Consider string lights, uplights, table lamps, floor lamps, hanging fixtures, even candles. For a green solution, great solar and LED lights are available.”

Let it flow- “The bubbling sounds of water calm and sooth. You can even add goldfish.”

Extend the inside out-“Decorate outside in similar ways as you would inside, and at any budget, have some fun and be creative with materials, more so than you might be in the house. To create your own outdoor private paradise, don’t be afraid to step out of your decorating comfort zone.”


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