As more Americans spend time at home this spring and summer, the value of outdoor spaces continues to grow. While outdoor rooms are most often equated with summertime, this year served up a reminder that they can provide additional space for entertaining or just relaxing in almost any season. And, in some regions, they can be enjoyed all year round.
Outdoor rooms are the ideal place to incorporate one of the year’s most popular trends: biophilic design. This design concept is rooted in nature, and aims to create spaces that make its inhabitants feel calmer, more relaxed and less stressed. It celebrates the innate connection between humans and nature, and studies show that the use of biophilic interior design in either home or office environments can improve overall well-being and enhance creativity.
It stems from the growing study of biophilia, which explores the human attraction to nature and looks at the many ways being in nature is beneficial to the mind, body and spirit. When applied to design, it can take many forms that are as diverse as the geography of the planet.
Creating Nature-Inspired Designs
Fortunately, Mother Nature offers plenty of inspiration for this design style. Once you move the concept of biophilic design outside, your options become even more robust. Because it draws from nature, biophilic landscape design encourages the use of natural elements with a variety of plant colors and styles. It can include existing greenery that you build into your design, or might require the addition of gardens or raised garden beds. The greenery can also be livened up with pops of color from flowers or colorful plants.
To create an outdoor room, you will use many of the same elements found inside your home, including walls, furniture and attractive décor. Whether you want to create (or expand) an outdoor living room, or turn your patio or deck into an outdoor kitchen, biophilic design provides some great guidelines for building a room that creates a beautiful oasis for entertaining and relaxing.
Let’s look at some of the essentials for your outdoor room.
1. Floor. every room starts with a floor. If you’re creating a new outdoor area that doesn’t utilize your patio or deck, choose a level surface, and define the area with pavers, gravel or brick. Make sure you choose surfaces that have a natural look and will blend in well with the rest of the space.
2. Walls. Creating some sort of boundary for your outdoor room defines the space you’re working with, and gives it a more intimate feeling. While you don’t need — or want — a fully enclosed space, you can define it with any type of boundary. These can include hedges or shrubs, a deck railing, or a retaining wall. Even columns and a pergola-style covering work great for outdoor rooms and spaces.
3. Furnishings. Outdoor furniture must be durable, but it should also be attractive and fit in with the other design elements you choose. Because today’s outdoor furniture offers so many options, you can find natural colors that complement your design. If you’re creating an outdoor living room, be sure to include end tables, or a coffee table. Likewise, your outdoor kitchen table should have ample room for both serving food and dining.
When choosing your outdoor furniture, consider pieces made of resin that look like wicker or rattan. They’ll be able to weather the elements and be right at home in your natural-feeling outdoor space. (Hammocks also work well in this kind of space.)
4. Art and wall décor. The kind of décor used in your outdoor space will, of course, be much different from what’s found on the walls inside your home. Look for natural, outdoorsy elements like wood and terra cotta that maintain the natural feel and complement your space. You can also use canvas elements designed for outdoor use to create a more “home-like” appeal.
The use of natural materials like wood and stone are key in biophilic design, and they can be implemented in many ways. When used around raised garden or flower beds, fireplaces, or even on an outdoor accent wall, stone can help tie the space together with a natural, outdoorsy feel.
Rather than go to the expense and hassle of real stone, see how Barron Designs’ large selection of faux brick, stone, and rock panels can help transform your outdoor space into a natural oasis. (See our Photo Gallery of outdoor projects for more ideas.)
Bring together a grill island and prep station with a faux stone covering. If you want to tie the room together even more, wrap columns in the same material. Or build a privacy wall for your outdoor room and finish it in faux rock or stone. There are unlimited ways to implement the use of natural-looking rock and stone into your outdoor room. You’ll improve the appearance of your space, and create an outdoor oasis that’s as easy on your eyes as it is on your budget.