Start with a Little Ambiance
Our clients are always amazed at what a little ambiance can do. There's something magical about bringing items typically found indoors outside. Candles, cafe lights, and even outdoor solar light options can add a lot to your outdoor space. Make sure to keep candles out of direct sunlight as they may warp over time. Don't have a candle holder on hand? Try a large mason jar filled with gravel or an old vase. Keep in mind candle containers without drainage may fill with water from sprinklers or sudden rain. Place these items closer to where you will spend most of your outdoor time. This will make it easier to keep an eye on open flames and it will be faster to extinguish everything at the end of the night.
Soften It Up
A lot of people are leery of using textiles outdoors. Don't be. The textile industry has made great strides in creating products specifically for out of doors. With that said, it is important to keep in mind that not all fabrics are meant to go outside. Many outdoor fabrics have a rating system that gives you an idea of its durability and its life expectancy in the sun. A typical indoor fabric will degrade very quickly in the sun. We suggest investing in some good outdoor pillows, cushions, and even drapes. Making the initial investment will make it so you aren't buying new outdoor items every season. We suggest buying weather-proof coverlets to put on your upholstered outdoor goodies to keep them protected in the off-season and looking good for years to come.
Fun with Outdoor Fireplaces
Outdoor Fireplaces are one of the best additions you can make to an outdoor living space. They make a lovely focal feature and give your guests a cozy place to snuggle up. Go large! A hefty fireplace can provide an anchor to your seating area and a large hearth can provide extra seating. Adding a simple pergola around it can create the feeling of having extra square footage to your home. It can be an expensive addition but worth every penny to your homes comfort and resale value.
Exterior Wall Dilemmas
One of our biggest questions from clients when tackling an outdoor space is what to put on their exterior walls. Expansive blank walls can be tricky and a lot of exterior wall art tends to be boring. We say bring the indoors outside! While you don't want to hang any family heirlooms outside, however because of the natural overhang protection you would be surprised how many things will fair well on your exterior walls. Try having pictures printed on canvas and then treat them with a UV clear coat to protect them from the sun. Have an old mirror? Try hanging it up outside! Bringing these items inside at the end of the season will prolong their life and keep them looking good for years to come.
If You Can't Stand the Heat Build an Outdoor Kitchen
Everyone that lives in the North Valley knows that come mid August the last thing you want to do is heat up your kitchen to make dinner. On account, we have noticed a big trend the past few years of clients wanting to build outdoor kitchens. There are many options available and it can be a big investment. The important thing is to know what items are the most important to you. If you are one to throw parties we suggest a drawer-style dishwasher. This can be very helpful to keep glasses and dishes from piling up during larger events. Plus, if it's just a small mess, you can just run one drawer at a time. Other popular options include a wood fired pizza oven, an outdoor gas oven, kegerator, drink fridges, ice makers, and more!
Outdoor Bathing Suites
Outdoor showers and soaking tubs are amongst the contenders for the most popular outdoor features requested by clients. Nothing compares to being able to unwind and get clean in the beauty of mother nature! With the current water shortage its also a great option to save water! By raising the level of your shower or tub you can collect the water naturally in a water storage container to be later used in the garden. Many people question if your soaps and shampoos will harm garden plants. In general if you are worried about a product being harmful to plants you shouldn't be using it on your body. For more information check out grey water systems for the home.
Let There Be Light
Good lighting is the best gift you can give to yourself and outdoor lighting is often overlooked. It's more than just some cafe lights and low voltage landscape lights. Our favorite look is the outdoor chandelier! It immediately adds some class and a soft glow to your look. It's important to keep in mind that of course water and electricity do not mix. Even in the dry summer months morning condensation and sprinklers can become a problem. It's important to have all wiring properly installed and protected from the elements. Whenever possible try to install under a covered area. They also have some lovely candle chandeliers which work well to eliminate the need for electricity. We suggest ones that have glass protection so that the wind doesn't blow them out.
Wonderful Water Features
The addition of a water feature can add some instant serenity. You can go with a pre-made fountain from the big box stores but building something custom can make a big statement. It's important to remember to keep the water circulating and to treat it regularly with a pet-safe mosquito preventative solution. Also with todays water shortage in California take every step to design your water feature to use the least amount of water. Keeping fountains out of direct sunlight and avoiding large shallow fountains can help avoid water evaporation.