Picture this, it’s 6 p.m., you’ve got your feet up, a cold beverage in hand and you can smell sweet flowers, feel the sun’s warmth and hear the bubbling water from the waterfall trickling into your rock pond. Your plush outdoor sofa is where you can curl up with a book, or serve guests cocktails before a late summer alfresco dinner under twinkle lights and sunsets.

6711-Gibbons-Drive-Carsten-Arnold-Photography-7-1024x683.jpgCarsten Arnold Photography

Your outdoor space is an extension of your home, and your own personal nature escape from the city. Every backyard is different, but you too can get a piece of that great outdoor oasis with these tips from the experts at Theron Horton Design and Ginger Jar Furniture.

1. Take a thorough inventory of the space you have. Which areas are getting sunlight, which areas are getting rain? This will affect what you can plant and where, and where you’ll want to put your seating, dining or kitchen areas.

2. Prioritize your wish list. Make a list of every amenity you dream of having in your outdoor space and assign each item a rank, in terms of how important they are to you.  Then work on a process of elimination for those items that just won't fit. This works with the budget, too! Remember: Often, less is more. Don’t cram everything in, try and be mindful of the space you have, and maintain an uncrowded, open feel.

3. When the BIG DREAM ITEM is slightly out of reach. Don’t give up on the big dream items too soon. Maybe there’s a way to scale back your kitchen or pool feature to something smaller to fit your space and budget.

4. Put on your Practical Hat. Before you go ahead and rip up the lawn, ask yourself: is it easy to supply electricity, gas, water, drains where they will be needed for what you’re planning?

5. How will you use your outdoor space? Who is using your backyard? Is it just you, or are you entertaining big groups? What will people do in your backyard? Quiet time, activities, dining? Answering the who and the what will help you decide on everything from privacy shrubs to moveable poufs to how to light your pathways.

6. Plan for all seasons. There’s no need to limit backyards and patios to summer only. Building flexibility and versatility into your outdoor living space will enhance your enjoyment for years to come.

7. Match your indoor furniture. Selecting furniture and accessories that not only compliment the landscape, but loosely match your interior furnishings will blur the line between the indoors and outdoors, and expand your living space, year-round. In this project, the teak Gloster collections compliment the wood beam structures.

8. Invest in quality outdoor pieces. You need fabrics and materials that stand up to rain, direct sunlight, West Coast wind and repeated use from garden parties and barbecues (while still offering you the look and comfort you love). While so called “fast fashion for the home” might have a smaller price tag up front, they cost more in the long run.

9. Don’t get forced indoors—add some shade. Full sun is great if you’re swimming, but not if you’re trying to read outside without your face melting off. If your landscaping doesn’t offer any tree cover, there are myriad umbrella options. Some umbrellas tilt or have rotating arms, while wheel-based umbrellas can move shade to where you need it. Mounted parasols are also a great option and don’t take up much space. 

10. Gentle, indirect lighting is best. This is a place to relax and socialize; so avoid installing glaring spotlights or harsh lighting options. Lanterns (solar powered, rechargeable LED or plug-in) are a great decorative addition to create ambiance—plus they are portable. Pro Tip: If you need security lights, have them switched separately so they can be off while you are relaxing outside.

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Credit: Carsten Arnold Photography

This may look like a simple post-and-beam pergola to shelter the dining area, but it required a ton of planning: where to place posts for foot traffic and the rain chain, building strategically placed beams to host copper eaves troughs on the outside and heaters on the inside—plus support rafters to offer shade and preserve light. (And it all had to look good, too!)

Ginger Jar: Gloster Bay Lounge Chairs
Credit: Carsten Arnold Photography

Gloster Bay Lounge Chairs

Ginger Jar: Gloster Split Teak Table with Sway Dining Chairs
Credit: Carsten Arnold Photography

Gloster Split Teak Table with Sway Dining Chairs

Ginger Jar Backyard Waterfall
Credit: Carsten Arnold Photography

Water falling from more than one source into more than one basin allows the designer to arrange the music the water makes. The sheer curtain waterfall from the weir makes a soothing sound. The rushing water shooting out the side splashes and tinkles. 

Ginger Jar: Backyard Garden
Credit: Carsten Arnold Photography

The arrangement of strong geometry broken by the natural form of the plants and gardens is a classic technique in garden design.

No matter the size of your outdoor space or what state it’s in now, your dream backyard sanctuary is within reach. The indoor/outdoor experts at Ginger Jar Furniture and landscape artists at Theron Horton Design can work with you to design the perfect space to suit your needs. Visit gingerjarfurniture.com and theronhortondesign.com to learn more.