When your mom told you to turn off the TV and play outdoors already, she knew what she was talking about. Hanging outside is good for our mental and physical well-being.
As adults, having an outdoor retreat adds an economic component: Upwards of 80% of home buyers said patios and front porches are “essential” or “desirable,” according to the “What Buyers Really Want” survey from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
So how come when we move into our dream home, we hardly ever use our decks, porches, and patios?
An anthropological UCLA study, described in the book “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century,” blames our fascination with digital devices — tablets, computers, televisions, games — for keeping us cooped up. The UCLA research participants spent less than half an hour each week in their outdoor space. And these were Californians.
So this summer let’s make a pledge to pay more than lip service to outdoor living so we can be happier, create lasting memories, and generally take advantage of what home has to offer.
#1 Go Overboard on Comfy
Comfy is easy to achieve and can be as low cost as you want. Start simple with a cushion or two or even a throw. A couple more simple starters:
- Get some cushy cushions. Make sure they’re outdoor-worthy and can handle downpours.
- Put down outdoor rugs for barefoot comfort.
#2 Make It Easy to Use All Your Devices
Our devices and electronics have conspired to keep us on lock down inside. Here’s some fun ways to stay charged outdoors:
- Get a Wi-Fi antenna to boost your range.
- Create a new habit of using solar chargers and you’ll rarely be without juice.
- Add some wireless speakers for the simplest DIY sound enhancement you could ask for.
#3 Design Your Space To Blur the Line Between Inside and Outside
Creating a seamless transition between your home’s interior and exterior isn’t as simple or low cost as adding some cushy cushions, but it’s seriously the best way to pull you outside more.
- The most affordable way: switch out a standard door with french or sliding doors.
- The wow-way: add weatherproof flooring, such as stone tile or scored concrete, for the space outside and the adjacent room inside.
#4 Crank Up the Mood Lighting
Outdoor lighting dresses up your home’s marketability and appeal (exterior lighting is buyers’ most wanted outdoor feature, according to the NAHB study), makes it safer, and lets you spend more time outside.
- Use uplighting to highlight trees, architectural details, or other focal points.
- Add sconces or pendant lights to make evening entertaining, grilling, and reading easier.
- Illuminate walkways, rails, and steps with landscape solar lights.
- Hang fairy or string lights to set an enchanting tone.
#5 Personalize It
- Paint a faux rug with your favorite colors.
- Create a path made with colored glass, brick, or other interesting found materials.
- Craft a one-of-kind outdoor chandelier.
- Build a pizza oven, custom seating, or other feature you crave.
- Add personal décor that makes you happy.
In fact, make your outdoor retreat an ongoing project where you can hone your DIY skills.
#6 Add Some Fun Stuff to Do
Your outdoor space will magnetically draw family and friends if it has features they find appealing.
- A fire pit is a proven winner. Food and fire have brought humans together since the dawn of time.
- Give wee ones the gift of magical thinking with an outdoor playhouse.
- Add whimsy with a chalkboard fence that both kids and fun-loving adults will enjoy.
- Add a doggie window in your fence to entertain Spot. Installing a dog run may even boost your home’s value. FYI: It’s been said that pets are one of the top reasons why people buy houses.
#7 Arm Your Space Against Bugs, Weather
Hot sun, rain, wind gusts, and bugs can send you running right back inside. Here are tips and strategies to help you throw shade on Mother Nature:
- Install an awning, canopy, or pergola.
- Rig glass fence windscreens to the keep your BBQ fires burning.
- Screen in your porch or deck against bugs.
If you already have a screened porch, don’t forget the slats between wood planks. Cover the floor with outdoor carpet or staple screening to the underside of floorboards.