Free-standing outdoor spaces, such as gazebos or other garden structures, differ from sheltered spaces in several ways. Generally, they are not seen from the front of the house and are usually integrated with the landscape. Gazebos provide a wonderful opportunity to let loose a little and give in to your more fanciful side.
First, consider how you will use your outdoor room. Will it be for dining and barbecues? As a place for the kids to muck about in a wading pool and sandbox? As a quiet spot to read and relax? For warm-weather parties? Or will it be all of these things? Also consider how much privacy you want.
Decks, patios, and terraces usually exist next to a wall of the house or adjoin a porch. Attached areas call for making the most efficient use of existing doors, windows, and steps. A deck or patio might also be a short walk from the protection of the dwelling or alongside a pool, pond, or playground area. In that case, you have the luxury of developing your own entrances and traffic patterns.
Make a plan before you start work on your patio or deck. Creating workable traffic patterns is important, as you will sometimes be carrying trays full of food, entertainment equipment, and games and toys through the space. You have to organize furnishings so that access is easy, trips to and from the house are no longer than necessary, and you can maneuver easily through the space.
In most instances, you will want to make the patio or deck as large as possible so that it can function as a combination outdoor family room, cooking and dining area, and even a play area for kids. If space is restricted, you might consider creating an intimate area, with a small table and a pair of bistro chairs, that serves as a breakfast nook or even as a place to do paperwork in the sun.
2007, Kathy Burns-Millyard. Want more great Outdoor Home Decorating Ideas, tips, and advice? Visit the Do It Yourself Home Decorating Network (http://www.diyhomedecorating.com/) now to see what’s new!