ABOUT THE AUTHOR | Cristina Villalón is the Co-Founder and Lead Designer at Álvarez-Díaz & Villalón. She directs both the Interior Design and Visual Merchandising divisions while overseeing all decisions made on a day-to-day basis at the firm.
As we’re spending more time at home, it’s important to enjoy the spaces you have.
If you have a balcony, patio, backyard or any other outdoor space, this is the time to really put this space to good use and enjoy the fresh air to the max. Here are a few ideas to get your creative juices going!
1. TRANSFORM YOUR SPACE
What do you want this space to be? Is it your refuge, your hangout or your workout space? Or all the above? There are no wrong answers. Make your space work for you. I currently have a small balcony that I’ve put to good use. On one corner, I hung up a boxing bag so I can get my kickboxing workouts in. Not going to the gym is one of the things I miss the most during this quarantine, so I brought the gym to me! I added some rubber mats, and some additional workout equipment, and voilà! Impromptu gym!
If you’re not making good use of whatever outdoor space you have, I recommend you do! It will do wonders for your mental health during this challenging time.
2. JUST ADD WATER
Summer is fast approaching and if you can’t go to the public pool, consider bringing the pool home. Many are opting for large inflatable pools or jacuzzis to turn their outdoor spaces into their own private oasis or retreat. I am all for this! Water is good for the soul. If you don’t have the space or budget for a pool but you still want to incorporate something unique or soothing to your outdoor space, consider adding a fountain or water feature.
Aside from looking beautiful, fountains can be very beneficial. The sounds of a fountain’s flowing water help relieve stress while drowning out surrounding noises like traffic, barking dogs or loud voices. Need some inspo? Check out this classic Spanish style fountain we incorporated into the interior patio of our Mountain Top Residence project!
3. ADD SOME BEAUTY
Adding flowers to your outdoor space will add beauty and freshness. My personal favorite are orchids because they live on for months at a time. If you don’t have fresh flowers, you can always add decorative ones or add other low maintenance plants. Flowers and plants will fill your spaces with beautiful colors, appealing scents and liveliness. We always add flowers to our projects! Here’s an outdoor table with fresh flowers in our Beach Front Residence project.
4. CREATE A SECOND LIVING ROOM
Make your outdoor space feel as comfortable as the inside. Incorporate chairs, tables, outdoor rugs, pillows and lighting. Design it like you would for any other living room that you can relax in. Nowadays, it’s easy to find beautiful and durable outdoor fabrics and materials. For one of our private residence projects, we created a second living room in a covered patio by adding outdoor slipcovered furniture and elegant accents.
5. SWING INTO YOUR HAPPY PLACE
Create an intimate outdoor nook for lounging, reading, or just zoning out. Find a spot to suspend a hammock or a swinging seat bench to help you meditate or breeze through those lazy days of summer. I added a hammock and plants to the corner of my balcony. This is my meditation spot, my refuge, the place I go when I need a time out! I think my daughters feel the same because I often find them curled up in the hammock. The middle of the balcony has a dining table. This has become a place to work, study, craft, play or anything requiring a flat surface. Sometimes it’s nice to get your work done outside.
6. ENJOY THE VIEW
If your home has a beautiful view, why not take advantage of it? Center your outdoor area towards it. This means creating a sit-down area where you can appreciate the view. We did this for our Inspirato project that had a gorgeous mountain view. It’s also been proven that looking at natural landscapes boosts people’s mood and productivity. So if you have a view, make sure you take advantage of it!
7. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE BALCONY
If you have a balcony, you can keep it simple with smaller outdoor chairs and tables. For our office balcony, we added tables and chairs with a pop of color to make the space stand out. It can get quite hot during the summer time, so you can add a foldable umbrella for sun and heat protection. You can also repot plants into smaller planters and create your own urban garden to grow plants, fruits and vegetables like we do.
8. MAKE IT PRIVATE
Who says curtains are only meant to be used indoors? Installing curtains in your outdoor space will make it look even better. Curtains can give the space more privacy, protect against direct sunlight, and add a tropical resort style to your home. Take a look at the outdoor curtains we added to our Contemporary Residence project.
9. LIGHT IT UP
Decorate your outdoor space with candles or hang them on your outdoor wall. Candles will give a space more ambiance and will make it feel cozier during at night. They can also add peace, serenity, relaxation and/or romance to a space. We incorporated hanging candles in the patio of our Campo House project.
10. CREATE YOUR OASIS
Even if you don’t have a large outdoor space or live in an apartment with a small balcony, you can still design your perfect outdoor space. Embrace what you have by adding functional furniture pieces and beautiful accessories that you love. What’s important is that your space gives you energy, peace and joy!
It’s more important than ever to find innovative ways to use our outdoor spaces. Decide what you need your space to be and get to work! You’ll find that going “outdoors” will do wonders for your mental and physical health. Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to create your own happy place to recharge and enjoy!