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3 Keys To Creating A Great Outdoor Space

Apr 18, 2008
What makes a great outdoor space? Is it the furniture, the flora or the accessories? Is it the location or the size? Or is it something a bit more intangible...something possibly unrecognizable!

Great outdoor spaces are not just defined by what is purchased and placed, but also by what is felt. How does a certain place affect you? Were you prepared for it? Did it invite you in or are you feeling a bit unwelcome? Are you certain of its purpose...of what you are to do while you are there? Often times, the anticipation of an event is just as worthwhile as the event itself, and outdoor spaces are no exception.

While many professionals would like you to think that creating great outdoor spaces should be left to the privileged few, that it is some how too difficult for the average individual, I believe that anyone (with a little guidance) can design and build spaces that are enticing retreats for all who desire to enter them. Here are a few key ideas to help you in your designs of inviting spaces that are just as desirable as they are practical.

Transition -

A progression of change helps build anticipation as well as expectation, while preparing an individual for what is to come. Transitional outdoor spaces help develop this type of progression within a guest. Create subtle entries that are not abrupt but rather smooth and gradual. These spaces should be almost imperceptible while gradually ushering the guest into the greater depths of the retreat. Things like rows of bushes or flowers leading to a conclusive space can allow a person to acclimate before arrival.

Separation -

Separation of space is integral to the overall creation of well-designed areas. A person must know that they have arrived at a certain location, but it should not be all too obvious. Road signs, plaques & banners are not necessary! Avoid using walls and doors whenever possible in outdoor design. Try other means of separation, such as trees, bushes, rocks or creeks. Something as simple as ground cover changes can make a definitive statement when it comes to spatial separation.

Definition -

Why am I here? This question should be answered at the transition stage, before an individual even arrives at an intended space. What is the purpose of this design? Is it purely a visual refuge that is not intended to be entered? Does it have a large entry welcoming everyone into its graces? A clearly defined purpose allows focus and clarity in design, making a space as practical as it is beautiful. One should not arrive at a destination without knowing what he or she is going to do when they get there. A plan of action should occur well before the occasion for implementation.

There is nothing more enticing than a well-designed outdoor space. Hopefully, these 3 essentials will help you on your way to creating a purposeful outdoor escape that will provide exactly what you desire.
About the Author
After being a student of the University of Oregon's Architecture & Allied Arts program, Joel Stephens began a 10-year journey in furniture design & manufacturing. As well as being an ASID Industry Partner for lines he created, Joel established Peniel Products, an online retailer of Home Furnishings and Decor.
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