When refreshing your home, it’s a good idea to think outside the box…literally! A welcoming outdoor space or patio not only extends your useable “living room,” but thoughtful design decisions can improve your day-to-day life and reduce the amount of energy your home consumes.
We may not get as many sunny days as we’d like in this region, but when it does happen it’s no surprise that everyone is outside – reading a book, working in the garden or enjoying time with family. You don’t need a huge yard or elaborate garden to reap the benefits. Here are five ways to make the most of your outdoor space:
Consider your home’s orientation: To take full advantage of afternoon and evening sun, locate outdoor gathering spaces (such as decks or patios) on the south or west side of your home if you can.
Work around the rain: There’s no shame in firing up the grill when it drizzles. Consider adding an awning or canopy, but use a transparent or translucent material (such as polycarbonate) to keep things dry without blocking natural daylight.
Make a plan for plants: Identify which areas of your yard get the best sun and a plant an edible garden. For other areas, chose native, drought-tolerant species that thrive in our region and don’t require extra watering after they’re established. If certain rooms of your home get blasted with low evening sun, consider planting fuller shrubs or trees outside those windows to reduce solar heat gain. And don’t forget the freebies – many areas have local programs that offer free trees to residents.
Creative reuse: Reducing your amount of impervious surfaces allows more rainwater to infiltrate directly into the ground rather than the sewer/storm system. Consider recycling concrete from old sidewalks and driveways into landscaping pavers.
Rethink the front porch: Backyard patios and decks offer a private place to dine and relax, but front porches and stoops are an equally important gathering spot for connecting with neighbors.
Lauren Zerbey is the Sayers family’s design coach. She is co-owner of Studio Zerbey, a Seattle-based architecture and design firm specializing in remodels, new residences and small commercial buildings. Lauren has also spent the last six years remodeling a 1910 fixer-upper with her husband, transforming it into a modern and efficient home and sharing the experience through her blog, chezerbey.