great outdoor spaces for backyard entertaining

Every Texan deserves their place in the sun — and every Texas home does, too. With so much time spent indoors in 2020, the value of a great outdoor space — complete with comfortable seating, compelling details and ample room to lounge and unwind — is more apparent than ever before. Fortunately, after a little attention and some key upgrades, your backyard can blossom from a grassy patch to a dreamy paradise.

Start with a vision

Before you put an offer on a home with a yard that has a big footprint or embark on a total remodel, ask yourself, “How do I intend to use the space?” Some homeowners want an elaborate outdoor kitchen for hosting gatherings. Others prefer a tranquil scene with cozy furniture where they can sit and sip coffee. And some want just a wide-open space for their kids to run and roam. No matter your unique interests, be sure you’ve considered the lifestyle you intend to lead outdoors before you make that offer or hire a contractor. 

Good bones to build on

Even with a vision in mind, it’s easy to become entranced by properties with enormous outdoor spaces. However, bigger isn’t always better — even in Texas. Before you’re seduced by square footage, prioritize the following features in your house hunt or building project.

Seek out a sturdy base

A deck or patio can be a great foundation for your remodeling plans, but you want to make sure they’re built to last. Wood decks, for instance, require consistent maintenance, including re-sanding and staining, and are also susceptible to rot. Patios certainly fare better, but they too are prone to problems, such as chips, cracks, and even stains. Be sure to inspect your deck or patio for any potential hazards and factor the repairs into your remodeling budget. Or, if you’re starting from scratch, prepare for an expense of $4,900 for a patio and $14,000 for a wood deck.

Shade is essential

In Texas, sunshine is a blessing and a curse. Fortunately, a proper patio covering can convert a scorched scene into a sweet paradise. If you don’t already have a shaded space in your yard, a simple awning or even a large umbrella may suffice. Or, you can opt for a more permanent addition, such as a patio cover with roll-up shades or a gorgeous pergola with soft drapes. There are a variety of options for buyers and sellers alike, so don’t skip this step in your backyard design. 

A little privacy, please

At the end of a long day, what you need is a quiet escape, where you can sip a glass of wine and soak in the silence. But, it’s not entirely easy to block out the world if the neighbors are right next door. A privacy screen can take a number of forms. A traditional cedar fence can do the job, or for a more natural look, so can a wall of bamboo. You can even add some visual interest with a climbing vine such as the robust red Mandevilla or the aptly named blue Sky Vine to cover your pergola or fence. However, before you make any changes or build any structures, be sure to check with your local building department to see if you need a permit to move forward.

Minor improvements for major impact

Creating a luxurious patio doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it can if you let your wallet lead the way. Start with a plan and stick to it. Here are four simple steps for designing an outdoor space that you — and your budget — will love.

Begin with the furnishings

As you browse for furniture, pull inspiration from your interior design. Your indoor and outdoor living spaces should flow seamlessly from one to another, sharing similar colors, prints, and textures. You should also keep weather in mind when you’re searching for furniture. Select a sturdy frame such as aluminum or PVC wicker and opt for a durable fabric such as Sunbrella for the cushions, to prevent mold and fading. Lighter tones on the fabric are also ideal in the Texas heat. After you’ve purchased the right pieces for your backyard retreat, place the furniture where it’ll be best utilized, such as under an awning or by the pool. 

Add amenities for activities

Think back on your vision. Are you a wine-lover or a grill-master? Do you prefer big gatherings or solitude? Do you have young, active kiddos or are they grown and gone? Incorporate personalized additions that help shape a space designed uniquely for you and your family. For the extroverts, make room for extra seating. For aspiring chefs, consider an outdoor kitchen. Meanwhile, young families can incorporate storage space for lawn games and pool noodles. Imagine the lifestyle you desire outdoors and cultivate an environment that matches your expectations.

Set the mood

With the essential components in place, it’s time to add a little light, warmth, and a touch of luxury. Details such as string lights, fire pits and even a water feature can incorporate a little ambiance in your backyard haven. For instance, these bistro-style string lights bring the retro vibe of Edison bulbs right into your backyard. Another high-style touch? This unusual fire pit made of stainless-steel sticks — just the thing for cozying around on those cool spring and fall nights. For the instantly calming effect of burbling water, try a shapely fountain, such as this one made of cast stone.

End with accents

Once the focal-point pieces have found their proper homes, the accents are the icing on the cake in your outdoor oasis. Dot your upgraded space with some colorful decor. Agave and pentas are two striking plants that hold up well in the Texas heat. You can also add bright, patterned pillows to liven up the neutral furniture and throw blankets for those chilly nights. Finally, round out your design with a bold area rug. Indeed, an outdoor rug can be the base to your backyard haven, connecting the outdoor furniture for a cozy and cohesive look.

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