Image: Janis Nicolay
Six ways to build a stylish outdoor space that the whole family – from tots to adults – will use with glee.
There's a whole world of beautiful outdoor furniture, as well as a never-ending supply of backyard toys for kids, but how do you create a space that stylishly incorporates both? That was the task at hand for landscape designers Caitlin and Owen Black of Aloe Designs in this Richmond, B.C., backyard. The lacklustre yard of lawn, trees and basic paving stones was a true blank slate.
The homeowners – finance professionals with two young daughters – desperately wanted a retreat where they could unwind and entertain, but they didn’t want to sacrifice room for their kids to enjoy many summer days playing outside. So the designers beautifully blended style and function to create an outdoor oasis fit for the whole family. Here’s how they did it.
1. CREATE ROOMS
“Consider each area of your yard its own room that also works within the landscape as a whole,” suggests designer Caitlin Black. Delineating areas for adults to cook, lounge and entertain, as well as spots for kids to play, organizes your yard and creates the illusion of space – which is especially important for any mid-sized city property, like this 2,500-square-foot one.
2. GO CUSTOM
A lot of kids’ toys and play structures just aren’t that aesthetically pleasing. Avoid having your yard look like a nursery school by investing in custom pieces that fit within your existing style, such as this playhouse (built by Aloe Designs), which is modern and architectural instead of pink and plastic. Being part of the design process allows you to create something you know your kids will love and use over time – not just for a few weeks.
3. MAKE IT MINI
Petite furniture and accent rugs liven up a playhouse, making it a fun and comfortable spot for kids to let their imaginations run wild while the grown-ups relax nearby.
4. FLEX YOUR GREEN THUMB
Containers let you incorporate low-maintenance greenery into your yard without occupying space for games of tag or water balloon fights. Fill them with fragrant culinary herbs like lavender, rosemary and lemongrass for an aromatic element that will also amplify home-cooked meals.
5. BRING OUT THE INDOORS
Plush outdoor furniture makes this seating area a true extension of the kitchen it flows out from. Stylish elements like the striped navy and white toss cushions and wooden side tables give off a sophisticated modern vibe while still being durable enough to handle muddy fingers and spills.
6. WASTE NO SPACE
Even an unassuming spot adorned with simple pavers and groundcover has an important purpose: It’s a place for the kids to make chalk art and play school, whether it’s Daddy or a set of stuffed animals in attendance.