OLS Design

What seperates todays outdoor living spaces from the patio and bbq of old is a functional and esthetically pleasing design . Todays OLS’s integrate the functionality of kitchens and entertainment areas with a beautiful natural setting that can only be found in an outdoor space. I believe the design process is the cornerstone to any successful project. When planning a new outdoor living space, I focus on 4 main design points:

  1. Hardscapes
  2. Ambiance
  3. Softscapes
  4. Furnishings

Hardscapes refer to any hard feature that is part of your outdoor living space design. A variety of materials can be used to build the hardscape features, they include natural stone, brick pavers, retaining wall blocks, wood and masonry applications. The hardscape should be designed to facilitate your outdoor activities while creating an esthetically pleasing environment. Try to be realistic with your scope, the hardscape is the largest part of most OLS’s and will undoubtedly be the most expensive part of your project. Take good care during the design stage, changes once construction is underway can be costly. Some examples of Hardscapes include:

  • Patios & Walkways
  • Staircases
  • Outdoor Kitchens
  • Gazebos/Pergola/Pavillion
  • Decks
  • Piers & Benches
  • Retaining Walls
  • Playgrounds/Sports
  • Fencing

What is a new outdoor living space with out a little ambience? Ambience is a key design component that is too often overlooked. There is nothing like the crackling of a fire place, the splash of a water against rocks or the soft uplighting of a specimen Japaneese Maple. Below is a list of design components that can greatly enhance your outdoor space.

  • Low voltage lighting systems.
  • Wood or gas fire place.
  • Water features and Colorfalls.
  • Audio system with outdoor speakers and volume control.
  • Hot tubs/pools and spas.
  • Universal remote

Softscapes are the natural component of your new outdoor space. While planting trees and shrubs is usually considered an esthetic enhancement to your space, a well thought out plant design can also be surprisingly functional. The functional components include shade, privacy screening, and wind/noise barrier. Depending on the characteristics of your property and climate, you may find the functional properties of trees and shrubs to be a very important part of your design. Other softscape components that should be considered are:

  • Landscape bed edging.
  • Irrigation system.
  • Decorative stone mulch and cobble.
  • Roof run-off drainage system.
  • Landscape boulders.
  • Herb or vegetable garden.

Furnishing your new outdoor space should be one of the easiest parts of the project. By the time you get to this stage you will have planned out your uses and your spaces and the furnishings should fit easily into place. Below is a list of furnishings to consider while designing your outdoor space:

  • Chase lounge
  • Dining sets
  • Bar stools
  • Pub table
  • Adirondack chair
  • Seat cushions
  • Statuary
  • Rain barrel
  • Decorative planters
  • Decorative hose reels
  • Patio heater
  • Deck box (storage)

Building a new outdoor living space at your home can be a tedious process. The best advice I can give any homeowner is to work with a reputable landscape architect and /or contractor that has 3-d design capabilities. Nothing resolves gray areas in a plan like a 3-d image. During the design process you will be able to see what the finished product will look like! This can help provide a true understanding of the work that is being proposed and design issues can be changed easily before construction begins.

Outdoor living spaces are a beautiful addition to any home. Doing the necessary research and asking the right questions is crucial. Please check out my companies website at www.peakec.com for more design ideas and to set up a consultation for your upcoming project.

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