Designing your backyard oasis
Story By Libby O’Regan
Whether you grew up in the Lowcountry or moved here recently, there is a good chance you settled here because you love our natural surroundings. That’s why we know you’ll want to maximize your outdoor living space. It’s never been more important to embrace your home and make it your sanctuary, so why not design the ultimate backyard oasis? Here’s your guide.
Awaken all five senses
Creating the perfect backyard oasis is more than green grass and a lawn chair. It is about awakening all of your senses. It’s a perfect combination of a beautiful site to see, pleasant smell, soothing sounds, comfortable setting, and something tasty on hand to eat or drink.
Set the scene
The visual component of creating your backyard oasis seems like the most obvious. If you are just in the process of designing your space and your budget allows, you’ll want to consult an architect.
“First ask yourself, how do you intend to use the space?” says Group 3 Designs Principal and Architect, Mike Ruegamer. “Whether you want to primarily use it for entertaining or lounging, or some combination of both, consider how you will utilize the area.”
Many are hesitant to call an architect, but Ruegamer says that a design consultation can be an inexpensive way to realize your dreams. You’ll want to make sure if you are designing space from scratch that it coordinates with the architecture of your home and fits in seamlessly as well.
If your space is established and you just need to refresh your outdoor oasis, consider investing in outdoor patio furniture that creates several “zones.” You will need a zone for relaxing and reclining in the sun or shade. Create a second zone designed for entertaining with a dining table and chairs. Ruegamer and Group 3 Designs also work to coordinate efforts with landscape architects and pool design so the plan it is cohesive. Creating a visually pleasing space is certainly the first step in creating the outdoor living area of your dreams.
Breathe it in
The Lowcountry’s flowering plants have a lot to add to your outdoor oasis by producing fragrance that is calm and inviting. You’ll want to consider flowering plants such as gardenias, jessamine, magnolias, wisteria and Confederate jasmine. Gardenias have large double white flowers, dark and waxy leaves, and their fragrance is abundant. Planting these types of flowers will ensure that your outdoor space is rich with fragrance. Of course, if you are lucky enough to live near the marsh or on the salt water, your backyard oasis might already have that green/gold marsh smell and delightful crisp sea salt air.
Be sure to consider your audio and visual needs. While many people now create their oasis complete with an outdoor TV and viewing area, others are more traditional with just a sound system. If your budget allows (and it may be less expensive than you think), you will want to consult with a professional. Sean Stewart with Custom Audio Visual told us that it is possible to get quality sound outdoors, and you don’t have to settle for sub-par sound. It’s even possible to achieve what he calls “The Disney World Effect” where you are hearing great sounding music as you move around your space, but you’re not entirely sure where it’s coming from. If your budget doesn’t allow for an outdoor speaker system, consider a portable speaker that has a Bluetooth connection. Create a playlist using Apple iTunes, Spotify, or Amazon Music with your favorite artists and songs. Several subscriptions will play ad-free music so your vibe isn’t interrupted.
Touch & feel
Part of awakening your senses and creating your backyard oasis includes creating comfort. Interior design experts recommend layering in textures in any space, including outdoors. Consider light and airy drapery hanging from your deck or rafters, soft outdoor pillows, and even a light blanket to bring out when the evening gets crisp. Just remember to wash or clean your accessories to limit algae and rust. Store items indoors when not enjoying.
Oh, so tasty
As you create the perfect backyard oasis, consider how you will awaken your last sense – your sense of taste. Different occasions will call for different snacks, dishes, or libations. But be sure you have on hand your favorites. Whether you have freshly brewed, homemade sun tea over ice, or a trusty Tom Collins – you’ll want something refreshing in these hotter months. If you are lucky enough to have an outdoor kitchen, stock it with fresh summer fruit favorites like peaches and watermelon. Bring out sorbet for a light and cooling treat. After all, now is the time to indulge and live in your outdoor space. Live in it to its fullest.
With the changes in the way we live lately, home is not only where the heart is, but sometimes where just about everything is. Maximizing your outdoor space and creating your backyard oasis will enhance your at-home experience, leaving you feeling happier than before.