- I asked an interior designer how I would design my outdoor space, which is a large, empty surface.
- I suggested dividing it into sections: one for eating, one for lounging, and one for grilling.
- The designer also said that we should incorporate lanterns and plants to create an intimate space.
My husband and I recently purchased our first home in Washington. Until now, one of our biggest challenges has been making the most of our outdoor space.
We have a fairly large collection but we haven’t filled it in much yet. Ultimately, we would like this area to be a nice resting place, but for now, the sheer size of the space and the void prevented us from doing any work on it. We also struggle to find the right aesthetic for an outdoor area.
To find out how best to use and design our blank deck, I consulted with interior designer Kathy Kuo, founder and CEO of Kathy Kuo Home.
After showing her several photos and a video tour of the space, she shared tips on how to make it feel cool and modern.
She said I should start by painting the railing a neutral brown to give the space a more sophisticated feel
Kuo suggested that we refresh the surface structure with a fresh coat of paint or stain before we do anything else.
She recommended using a waterproof stain in a neutral brown with gray undertones to give the space a rustic feel that’s still very sophisticated. She also suggested I paint the support beams for an updated look.
“You can paint the support beams a really rich, dark gray for a clean, modern farmhouse-inspired look,” she said.
We can get rid of some clutter by hiding it in stylish pieces of furniture
Another problem we had was figuring out where to put some of the clutter that had accumulated on the deck over time. Lots of shoes and some random outdoor items lined up right outside our door.
To solve this problem, Kuo recommended that we get a storage locker or shoe bench that can live on the deck to hide the clutter.
She said we should make sure to find a piece that is made for outdoor use and that matches the rest of the furniture that will eventually live on your deck.
Kuo also recommended moving a table tennis table off the deck and putting it in the garage. In this way, we can start designing our space with a “clear floor plan.”
Since I have a fairly large surface, I can divide the space into sections to create a very multifunctional area
The size of our deck made it difficult when it came to decorating because there was so much empty space to fill. To help with this, Kuo advised creating multiple zones rather than trying to design the entire space as one large outdoor living room.
“As long as you go in with an eye for detail and add visual corridors from every area, you’ll end up with a space that’s beautiful and very multifunctional,” Kuo said.
I want to use this space for outdoor dining and entertaining guests, so I suggested I divide it into three sections by placing a round table in the middle, a lounge area on one side, and a grilling area on the other.
I also use an outdoor rug to help define and “anchor” spaces. Kuo suggested I take inspiration from my own interiors when choosing a rug for my deck.
We should bring our inner aesthetics outward to create a seamless transition using a similar color palette and design style
Kuo said I can start using my home’s interior as inspiration for decorating my outdoor space.
“If you have an interior aesthetic that you love, there’s no reason not to bring it outside by using a similar color palette and furniture design style as seen inside your home to ensure a seamless transition from indoors to outdoors,” Kuo said. .
She also said that outdoor pillows are a great way to show personality and create a connection with an indoor decor. For furniture, Kuo said we should mix different textures, materials, and color tones to create visual interest.
“You may also want to consider choosing pieces with contrasting and complementary materials for the woodblock and flooring,” Kuo said.
We can also create an intimate and experimental space by adding plants and lights
Kuo recommended adding lots of plants and lights to take your outdoor space to the next level. She explained that this would create a kind of intimate and experimental space while adding depth and softness.
Real plants could work if gardening was inside our wheelhouse, but she also suggested UV-resistant faux plants that are easy to maintain and won’t quickly fade over time.
For lighting, Kuo suggested we hang beautiful string lights or a layer of outdoor lanterns of different sizes in the dining area and/or lounge area.
In general, I’ve learned that zoning my space is the key to making it highly functional and easier to decorate
The biggest takeaway from Kuo’s advice is that I should divide the space into sections and then Decorate each part.
Kuo really sold me with the idea of dividing the deck into thirds – each with a different purpose – to create a beautiful, multi-functional space rather than having just one giant “room.”
With her advice, the design process feels more doable and I feel less confused about how to go about decorating such a large space.
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