From the Floor Up

Designing for Outdoor Living Spaces

Posted by Daltile Team on Apr 10, 2015 6:00:00 AM

Uptown Glass in Pearl Blue

Many of the same principles that apply to interior design apply to exterior design, especially if you want your outdoor space to be an extension of the comforts of your home. Design your hardscapes (exterior tile and other permanent fixtures) the way you would your interior floor plan and you can enjoy your backyard all summer long.

Design Traffic Patterns

Not only is it important to set up traffic patterns for your outdoor spaces, it is necessary. The outdoors is the domain of running children and playing dogs who don’t have the same discipline outdoors as they do indoors.

Hardscape materials are one of the easiest and least expensive ways to do this. Lay exterior tile pathways. Make a row of flower pots to mark the way. Arrange your patio furniture to make natural walkways.

You can also use landscaping to create traffic patterns. Plant shrubs, trees, or flower beds to show where borders are.

Quartzite in Golden Sun

Install a Fireplace

The fireplace creates a center place for gathering. It extends the fun of summer into the chilly evenings of autumn. It is the center of hot dog and marshmallow roasting. No outdoor space is complete without one.

Put in a full-size fireplace complete with chimney or go for a smaller fire pit. Use materials on your hearth that can withstand both the exposure to the weather and the heat of a fire. Tough, heat-resistant tile makes a great addition to a hearth and gives you many options design-wise.

Pick a Feature

Just like your interior design, your exterior design can be built around a single feature. It might be a piece of patio furniture you found at the flea market or a water feature complete with koi. Design the rest of your outdoors taking inspiration from your feature.

This approach harmonizes unique elements into one beautiful  design.

Featured in THE NEW AMERICAN HOME, photo features travertine in Durango

Provide Seating

Your outdoor living space need plenty of seating especially if you plan to entertain. Select several different types such as bench, dining chairs, lounges, and stools. That way you’ll be able to have something for everyone without your backyard looking like a theater.

You can use repurposed stumps, rocks, and even storage as places to rest and socialize. Though you want plenty of seating, be sure not to interrupt your traffic patterns.

Create an Atmosphere

How do you want your outdoor space to feel? Mysterious like the secret garden? Or lush like a tropical island? Maybe you want an open space that creates the perfect mixer. It helps to think about the atmosphere you want as you select your patio, porch, or pool tile. Having a theme in mind will help guide your choices.

Accessorize with Detail

If you are like most homeowners, you stuck with neutrals for your interior design. Your outdoor space is more inviting to elements that you might never think to use in your house. Bold colors, patterns, and textures are at home outdoors.

Accessories like furniture, pillows, and rugs are easily changeable. You can change them whenever your tastes evolve or you want to upgrade to the latest styles. Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone when selecting outdoor details.

Quartzite in Golden Sun

Design for Functionality

Your backyard is far more than an entertaining space. You also use it for playing, gardening, and any number of other activities. Don’t forget to design some functional elements into your hardscape. Think about what you do in your backyard the most and create spaces just for those activities.

Put in a garden shed or planting station with room for all your tools and pots. You can also create hidden places for things you’d rather not look at—like the lawnmower—after you’re finished with them.

Build in Shade

Plan for some shady spots in your outdoor space so you can get out of the sun on hot days. You may also want to shield your area from the view of the neighbors.

Use landscaping to provide cool shade and coverage. You can also use hardscaping like pergolas, retaining walls, fences, and curtains to get the privacy and relief you’ll need in your yard.


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Topics: Remodel, Redesign, Exterior Tile

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