Memorial Day is nearly here and there is no greater harbinger of summer than getting the backyard ready for some fun outdoor living. Of course, here in Houston, we get to enjoy our patios, pools and gardens nearly all year. However, we usually do need to do some maintenance to get ready for the big season. What are some ways to update outdoor living spaces? How would an interior designer update your backyard?
First of all, can you believe how filthy everything gets on your patio? I can clean my small outdoor dining table on Tuesday and by Friday, it’s too dirty to use. I guess there is an awful lot of dust, dirt and smog in our air here in HTX. When having guests, I always plan extra time to clean the outdoor furniture, vacuum the outdoor cushions and do a general sprucing up, even if I did it just a few days ago.
Secondly, if you’ve had most of your outdoor toys and accessories stored for winter, be sure to do an inventory and discard or repair broken and dated items. So often, we see people just shoving old towels in the baskets and bent noodles in the closets. If the items aren’t appropriate for use, get rid of them. Hiding them just makes you have to deal with them during the season or even next year.
Some of you may recall I have this same tip for the holiday season. (Scour your decorations for broken and outdated items and either repair or discard them as well. I keep a small tool kit handy while pulling out the Christmas décor and make quick work of the task of purging or fixing.) It’s so much nicer to open up your bins — be they filled with tree garland or swim flippers — knowing everything inside is clean and ready to use.
Outdoor Living Spaces Crafted for our Interior Design Clients
We have enjoyed creating many beautiful outdoor spaces for our clients over the years. Here are a few of our favorites.
Outdoor Living in River Oaks
This pretty River Oaks classic was a gut job inside but the pool was nearly perfect. The landscape designer on the job referred me after the client wanted help selecting a fountain. We had a wonderful design experience and loved how the spacious summer kitchen came together. We even created access to the second floor from outside by installing a spiral staircase and upgrading the ironwork as shown above. It’s such a pretty backyard and ideal for entertaining. There is a darling cabana too!
Kingwood Takes on Outdoor Living
This Kingwood house had so much space for a huge backyard. We were able to create an extensive outdoor area complete with a living room with a fireplace and television, a summer kitchen and a large pool with an adjacent dining terrace. We really enjoyed this new construction project and working with our friends at Sugar Creek Homes.
Richmond Home Redefines Outdoor Living
This next home in Richmond is truly a family compound. The pool, summer kitchen, pair of grills and outdoor bar were a huge part of the plan. Further, the pool house is actually a two-story building that houses a sports bar, pool bathroom, and a loft office. This outdoor living area absolutely has it all. You can enjoy the fountains, fire, and a light and music show. The second-floor balcony has a waterfall that cascades over a sitting nook and falls into the pool. Parties at this house are quite an experience. I am happy to say I have attended a few!
View two of this phenomenal backyard is shown below.
Memorial Park Home Packs a Punch with Small Patio
While all of these spaces are quite large, even small areas can provide enjoyable outdoor living. This next patio offers beautiful views of Houston’s Memorial Park from the 15th floor. A small table and ottomans, each with a pair of chairs allow up to four people to lounge and relish the park from above.
Designer’s Patio Optimized for Outdoor Living
My own patio is quite small but we have room for a grill, a club chair and an ottoman, a small sofa, a bar cart and a dining set for four. Although we have a 10,000 square foot lot, there are many restrictions inside the city limits and we had to work within easements on all four sides of the lot and up to 30 feet in the air in some areas for overhead power lines. We set our home far back on the lot on purpose to accommodate a circular drive and a motor court.
We weren’t interested in a pool since we belong to The Houstonian Club, which is only 2 miles away. Therefore, we were able to pack quite a bit into our little limestone patio.
We have a wonderful project in the Heights right now. The house sits on the Heights Hike and Bike Trail and has a huge backyard (especially for the Houston Heights!) There is a pool, several side gardens and a garage apartment. We are expanding the house from a single bathroom for the three children to three full bathrooms plus a primary bathroom on the second floor. The first floor will have an enlarged kitchen, a baking pantry and a fabulous utility room full of lockers and storage for the whole family and their hobbies.
The new summer kitchen will have a sink, a grill with an extra-large side burner for large stock pots and the pièce de resistance – a pizza oven! They may have people lining up on the trail to place an order!
Accessories for the Outdoors
Another great part of outdoor living these days is the many wonderful options we have for decorating. From outdoor rugs to melamine tableware, your outdoor style can look better than ever! I can hardly resist buying tableware and I have a fun collection of outdoor items. I bought a set of six melamine bowls and six plates by Cynthia Rowley. I love the aqua color with white and brown rustic accents. In fact, I like them so much that I sometimes mix them with my regular china to spice up the inside dining table!
You can look around and find all sorts of designs for your own table. I hate using disposable items. I worry about the waste and honestly, food looks and tastes so much better with proper serving pieces. If you are wedded to using paper plates and plastic utensils, you still need sturdy trays, plates and platters for serving so perhaps start investing in a few of those. Your table will look so nice!
As you can imagine, there are many ways to enjoy your outdoor living spaces and the upcoming holiday weekend is the perfect time to get back into the swing of summer. Preparing for the seasons and holiday events always inspires me. Until next time, find your inspiration or call us and we’ll help you discover it!