Monday, December 9, 2013
By MELISSA RAYWORTH The Associated Press
Design magazines and home decorating catalogs tend to feature sprawling backyards with big wooden decks and room for everything from decorative fountains to artificial ponds.
Drapery panels are added to this small Flynn-designed outdoor porch to emphasize the house’s tall ceiling, minimize its narrow dimensions and give the space privacy. Another trick is to hang oversized art and flank seating areas with two love seats or sofas rather than chairs.
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Designer Brian Patrick Flynn turned a narrow 14- by 9-foot outdoor space into a full-fledged living room by adding a pergola for shade and suspending outdoor pendant lights. A planter wall provides privacy and a braided indoor-outdoor area rug creates an indoor feeling.
The Associated Press
But few of us have that much outdoor space.
Still, with a few strategic choices, you can create something truly special out of even the smallest yard or porch, says Los Angeles-based designer Brian Patrick Flynn.
Here, he and two other design experts -- small-space specialist Kyle Schuneman and landscape designer Chris Lambton -- offer advice on the best furnishings, plants and decorating strategies for making the most of a small yard, modest deck or petite patio.
GO FLEXIBLE AND MOBILE
"With a small outdoor space, I really like to think double duty," says Schuneman, author of "The First Apartment Book: Cool Design for Small Spaces" (Potter Style, 2012). Look for seating that has hidden storage space inside and tall planters that add privacy.
And choose items that can easily be moved, such as lightweight flowerpots or planters on wheels, says Lambton, host of the gardening design series "Going Yard" on HGTV. "It's an easy DIY thing," he says, to buy an assortment of inexpensive plastic pots and paint them to match your outdoor decor.
If planters are lightweight or on wheels, you can move them to get proper sunlight at different times of day, and rearrange them if you're entertaining guests and need more space. And, Lambton says, they can be moved inside to a sunny window or doorway when cold weather arrives.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT FURNITURE
"The easiest way to make small outdoor spaces appear smaller is to fill them with lots of pieces," says Flynn, founder of the design website decordemon.com.
"Instead, go big with sectionals, or flank perfectly square or rectangular areas with identical love seats or sofas. This not only maximizes the seating potential, but it also keeps the space from becoming too busy or even chopped up. In my outdoor living room, I used a U-shaped outdoor sectional which seats up to seven comfortably."
When arranging furniture, consider the view: If the home's exterior is more attractive than the outdoor view, Flynn says, consider positioning seats so that you'll face your home rather than looking away from it.
All three designers say your choice of plants is especially important when space is limited.
Choose plants with a purpose: "Lavender's great," Lambton says, because it's attractive, easy to grow and deters bugs. Marigolds will also help keep insects away.
Lambton also suggests putting up a trellis as a privacy wall, and planting it with colorful wisteria or climbing hydrangea. Or choose a tall holly or cypress plant in a large planter.
"Holly will be green all year round," he says, and can help transform an unappealing view.
None of these plants are hard to take care of, Lambton says. "If you're having coffee in the morning, just go out and dump a little bit of water in."
Flynn agrees, and also suggests using potted grasses, which are "low maintenance and, as they grow, they create a full wall of privacy."
If you love plants but have minimal space, add a wall-mounted garden filled with succulent plants to one wall, says Schuneman: "It's a great way to add life and texture without actually taking any real estate up on your small balcony or patio."
(Continued on page 2)
click image to enlarge
A tiny patio decorated in the same color scheme appears to be an extension of the adjacent living room.
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