Let Inside Spill into Your 2021 Yard

by Blake Herzog

Our enforced nesting in 2020 has led many to put more resources into their homes. As the new year arrives that effort is spilling out to the yard, as people want to make it more comfortable for their own use and more functional for meetups that have been relocated to the great outdoors.
This has fueled the rise of patio furniture that looks more like living room sets and new attention paid to such features as lighting and flooring to make the outside a year-round destination, no matter how harsh the elements can be.

Here are some of the many ways homeowners are expanding their interior living space into back yards and front yards, which may inspire you to add onto your place without building a single square foot.

Seamless Flow
This is about making the boundary between indoors and outdoors as invisible as possible. This means taking advantage of large sliding doors and reflecting your interior design motifs on the patio in furniture, flooring, lamps and lights and other accessories. Adding a speaker system for music and a TV, if your power system allows, will complete the transformation.

Patio Furniture: Natural Materials, Warm Colors
Speaking of patio furniture, part of making your patio more inviting is getting rid of unsteady, uncomfortable plastic and metal furniture, which can become especially repellent in the harsh summer sun.
The argument for these styles has always been that they’re durable and easy to hose down when needed, but natural wood frames topped with outdoor cushions or upholstery can weather the sun’s rays without heating up to intolerable levels and create a much comfier look.
Likewise, the whites and neutrals long favored for outdoor furnishings are being pushed aside by “warmer” shades in the orange and red spectrum, sometimes providing a contrast to the living room but still working with it to create an organic, inviting whole.

Outdoor Kitchens and Bars
These were a big trend heading into 2020, and given how that year turned out it’s a certainty homeowners will continue setting up full-scale kitchens and bars with stools to make it that much easier to feed family and friends in the beauty and safety of the outdoors. Many backyards already have permanent grills installed in back, so it’s not that far of a leap to add a sink, small fridge, counter space and more amenities that would be so useful by the grill anyway!
If you don’t have the space or budget to go all-out you can still create this feel by adding a table or cart to serve as a small prep station to assemble snacks and/or serve them buffet style.

When you’re expanding your space outdoors, making sure it’s comfortable and safe at night is critical for making it a true extension of your house. Small solar stake lights may not be able to do much in this regard, so consider hanging more lights in the trees or consulting an electrician about installing outdoor lights on the ground, on the side of the house or wherever else they can work to create a space all times of the day or night.

Year-Round Use
In a similar vein, making your outdoor space as accessible as possible means making it as weatherproof as possible through shading, fire pits and the like. Some desert dwellers tend to write off participation in any sort of activity in the summer, but after-dark conditions can be quite tolerable (see above for lighting suggestions).

Spray misters can be installed across the roof or on the ground and can be calibrated so you won’t be drenched after relaxing underneath them for a while. Awnings and pergolas provide valuable shade that will come in handy any time of the year, and adding any water feature (in-ground pool, kiddie pool, fountain) will instantly create a microclimate that can lower temps by as much as 10 degrees.