Even the outdoor spaces of a modern urban home can be transformed into private retreats with the consideration of this handful of factors.
When the sun takes on a more enjoyable temperament in the evenings – or has yet to get fierce at the start of the day, there is perhaps nothing as enriching or rejuvenating for the soul as a meditative stroll in the sanctuary of one’s own garden. But perhaps your home came with a hardscape instead of a lawn, or your initial reaction to a blank slate devoid of grass cover was to lay your choice of architectural finishes over it instead – either way, you may have a potentially cold expanse of stone to contend with. To help imbue your gardens and balconies with some semblance of intimacy, we took a look at our favourite outdoor spaces and described the ingredients that make for restful retreats here.
The subtle effects of light on our behavioural patterns are only just being uncovered presently, with the most recent findings implying that our natural rhythms leading to sleep are interrupted by artificial sources of blue light – which modern urban life seems to be saturated in, due to the prevalence of black mirrors and fluorescent lighting fixtures. One of the easiest ways to go about turning an emotionless outdoor space into one that is more hospitable is to exchange light bulbs of the “cool white” variety with the paradoxically lower temperature “warm white” bulbs. As with stars in the sky, bulbs burning at lower temperatures appear more red than blue – emitting a light that is similar to the quality of sunlight at the start and end of each day, when our natural rhythms are at their most restive.
Even with a stone patio adequately appointed with warm yellow lighting and vibrant swathes of flora, without some form of seating available, there is not much to do other than to take in the scenery while standing. Adding a single chair provides a platform for a few solitary activities – but adding a table, and a few more chairs, provides opportunities for a gathering of intimate acquaintances in close proximity.
If you want to provide more than just a place for friends and family to converse while taking in the ambiance, consider incorporating additional features as conversation multipliers to ease restless personalities and fill uncomfortable silences. Talking points spontaneously arise around features such as an intriguing ornament, a potted plant, a rock garden, an artful water feature, or a fish pond; and the merriment of an outdoor soiree can be extended with the addition of a barbeque grill, a beverage bar, or if space permits: a decadent body of water such as a foot bath, a Jacuzzi, or a pool.
The style of décor that is most appropriate for the creation of an intimate outdoor space is largely dependant on personal preferences and where one feels most at home on the continuum of order and chaos. Generally, a home with a large outdoor space would benefit from a strong focal point achieved using a stylish outdoor furniture piece.
Article by Kevin Eichenberger