How to Extend Your Season Outdoors
Living in Cincinnati has challenged me to be resilient against weather. I don't like to allow external things to dictate my mood but inevitably the humidity in the Summer and the grey skies in Winter have their way of throwing a mood curveball to say the least.
For those who dislike both heat and grey, that could leave only two enjoyable outdoor seasons in the Tri-State. Why not plan your space to make the most of what is naturally a part of your home, the uncontrollable climate. Whether you are reading this from Cincinnati or not, here's how to allow weather swings to charm you instead of scare you inside.
It may sound a little too basic but sometimes the obvious is exactly that needs to be stated. Having the right clothing for each time of year can be the difference between wanting to park yourself outside or not. Let me be even more bold as to say hiring a stylist might just get you excited to strut around in your authentic, weather appropriate gear. Not only would you be feeling inspired, but also a fun part of the context.
Just couple years ago I hired a stylist to solve the missing pieces in my wardrobe and I found that having what I needed actually extended my ability to be fearless against the drizzly rain or the balmy heat. Since I had given myself things that were nice enough to be seen in socially and still comfortable, nothing was stopping me from catching some extra fresh air when I needed it.
Instead of having cabin fever and daydreaming about an expensive vacation, just handle it by investing in some key pieces for comfort.
Old Architecture Knows Stuff
One thing we can learn from architecture that was built before heating and cooling systems is the many ways people used simple tricks to make living with the changing seasons easier. You'll see these tricks in old southern homes where wrap around porches were intended to capture breezes and bring a cooling air across the interior with cross ventilation.
Looking at how older structures connected people to the outdoors is a way to take inspiration for your next minor or major home improvement.
Shield yourself from the sun with a tree, structure, overhang, umbrella, or three season room. To add permanent or temporary shade, think about your budget and go from there. If you are on the low end, invest in a great umbrella and let that get you outside all Summer. Get a great big oversized one, no dinky stuff. Pull that baby inside during heavy winds.
If you can expand your living space into a covered patio or screened in porch, you may want to do that and have your designer help you think about how the sun and shade will work with this room. Make sure you are achieving your goals which may be to seek refuge from sun or enhance the access to it. It's also fun to take advantage of sun in the Winter and shade in the Summer with movable shades.
Charmed with Heat
I'm all about the portable kerosene heaters that fancy restaurants use on their smoking patios and bistro cafe areas. Get one and add it to your deck for a late night adult beverage or hot chocolate. Get a couple cozy blankets that are just for covering your lap on your porch. Make it fun to be outside once it gets dark. If you like snuggling up with kids or your honey get a huge outdoor lounge chair big enough for your tribe.
We install a lot of fire pits and they can be built in, you can go all out with an actual fireplace, or just get a portable fire pit to stay flexible. These areas should be planned to seat people somehow with either comfortable adirondack chairs or a seat wall. If you have pyromaniacs in the family, keep your high end outdoor furniture somewhere else. You can also just stand around and enjoy the fire but I find setting the stage with an inviting way to bring the family and guests around will ensure that you use it.
Lots of people enjoy the smaller gas lit fire features and these can create nice ambiance, but they aren't super warm. We have created some custom features that use a gas line connected to an app so the homeowner can turn it on from anywhere. These are perfect for people who don't mind pulling up a blanket as the chill really sets in. They are also fun when it's warm out since they don't get too hot.
Bridging the Gap with Nooks, Seating, and Lighting
Sometimes, even though the weather is not ideal, just the fact that there is another place to go sit and take refuge or gather and connect might be the place you need to be alone or with others. A bench nestled in a grouping of shrubs or a round circle of stumps near the wood line can be inviting regardless of weather. In households where alternate places for people to be other that the main common areas, this can create more harmony. As teens grow up they may need a place to be alone. When kids are young they might need a place to squirrel away and play. As adults take breaks from work and chores, it can be nice to have a place that is just for fun.
Lighting can sometimes solve this idea just by illuminating a seating spot or a little path outside. Then times we have areas in our home that are underutilized - especially outdoors. Imagine how lighting up a few trees in your back yard could cause you to gaze up and out of the window to enjoy the bare branches or the lush canopies at dusk. We often times add a few lights that go on at dusk and off at midnight for people who have great windows for views.
Sometimes just an inexpensive canopy and a couple cute chairs can be the thing to get the nook you need.
Gardening for Time
Lastly I want to address something that we have been big champions of and that is the climate appropriate, low maintenance landscape. Make your landscape a knock out all year round by editing it down to only what's needed. I think with gardens a lot of times people think more is more and unless you plan to garden a lot, that isn't the best mindset to be in. As a fan of the minimal look and I think the more your landscape care fits the lifestyle you actually have, the more inclined you are to be active in your outdoors. Having your landscape be a burden could create enough tension to keep you from enjoy it longer than you absolutely need to and that is never fun.
Having only what you need and enjoying it to the max is the best way to cherish your own time and your time with your family. If you have a wisely chosen palette of plants and arrangement of planting beds you will naturally see your yard not skipping a beat as the weather does what it will and maybe encourage you to be in tune as well.
I never cared for gardens whose owner HAD to have a specific plant that did not work well most of the year. It's like having a party pooper in your garden - pick tried and true plant material and make sure your beds are full enough to not attract a ton of weeds.
I think extending your season intentionally only adds charm to the way you enjoy your home. It also creates ways to have a more intimate relationship with your space, yourself, or the people you share your space with. Making new spaces to enjoy life with ease can be as simple as realizing you can or as transformational as going through a design or remodel.
For some creative ideas on how to enhance your outdoors for Fall check out this pinboard! And if you need a way to get some serious help and move forward on your next outdoor project you know you can always call us to see if we can help by clicking here: https://calendly.com/flourishbydesign/15min