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Open Up Your Living Space Outdoors

colanderPlantsFeeling a bit cooped up after a long, cold winter? Once spring comes, we can all start thinking about expanding our space beyond just the walls of our living space. If you are living in a condo or apartment, you can enlarge your living room by pushing out to a balcony. In a house, you can plan which part of your garden becomes an additional room or cozy sitting area. All you need is a few items, appropriate for outdoor living and a bit of planning.

Visualize your outdoor living space
Your balcony can be a quiet place to lie down or sit and read, and a space to sip wine at a patio table. In a garden, your space may already be decided by patio stones, a deck, a patch of grass surrounded by a garden, or even crushed gravel.

Select from these features to further define your space – it will make you feel like it’s your living room, outdoors:

  • Planters around the perimeter or corners.
  • Vertical trellis and/or outdoor screens in bamboo, wood, metal at one or both ends
  • Shrubs, perhaps a hedge
  • Patio umbrella, canopy, pagoda, or overhead trellis with vines
  • Strings of lights or lanterns
  • Outdoor curtains
  • Outdoor rug or decking squares

Furnishing your space
Choose outdoor furniture that suits how you plan to use your space. Don’t worry if it doesn’t all match. You can pull it all together by using consistent colours or adding outdoor cushions and chair coverings.

  • Entertain a lot? Consider a large BBQ, table, chairs and a side bar for serving.
  • Want a private outdoor getaway? Invest in a comfortable outdoor chair, ottoman and perhaps a plug-in water fountain.
  • Looking for a quiet, romantic spot? An outdoor fireplace, settee and overhead hanging lanterns will help set the mood.

Low maintance and long lasting

  • Weather resistant fabrics (always!)
  • Wooden furniture treated for outdoor use, water impenetrable stain or exterior primer and paint
  • Bamboo and wicker furniture and fixtures
  • Metal furniture and fixtures intended for outdoor use, or painted with rust-proof or plastic spray paint
  • Quality, stable canopy or overhead umbrella that can withstand the weather
  • A fully sheltered area or at least an outdoor storage box where you can toss in the cushions when it rains
  • Plastic dishes and glasses
  • Assortment of planters for flowers, greenery, even herbs

Personalize

  • An old mirror, treated with weather-proof paint to reflect your garden
  • Lighting depending on your needs: an outdoor patio light, sturdy candle-holders, Chinese-style lanterns, sparkly mini lights
  • Re-using found objects in a new way, such as colanders as hanging baskets
  • A fun, outdoor art piece such as a metal sculpture, wall hanging, even a garden gnome
  • Planters on wheels so you can move them to the sunlight or shade as needed