Designing Your Outdoor Oasis


The great outdoors, this is the perfect time of year to spruce up or create a setting that you can enjoy throughout the year. When creating an outdoor oasis here are a few steps to consider that may help drive your design decisions.

aout8Plan: Layout the space; designating areas such as patio, gardens, paths, cooking, dining, sitting, covered, recreation and decorative. Above , multiple levels are a natural looking way to distinguish the different functions while a fabulous built-in fire-pit can be used throughout the year.

Lighting: Landscape lighting is an outdoor oasis must, even if the budget only allows for torches and candles you can always add it in the future. Left, stringing garden lights in between posts gives a festive feel. I recommend a combination of task and decorative lighting, similar to designing interior lighting.


Water features: if you are designing a pool, Jacuzzi or fountain start there; then consider not only the actual water feature but the gathering areas around it. Planning for a pool is quite a task, read about my pool adventure here.


Built-ins: decide what structures will be built-in or freestanding. Consider stone walls, fireplace, fire-pit, grill station, outdoor kitchen, bar and banquettes. I love the lattice and arbor design detail above, it seamlessly finishes the look of the stone built-ins. Below, the curve of the stone wall adds character and interest defining the garden area while a built-in fireplace is the focal point of the patio area.


Arbors and covered porches: There are two ways to approach this; create a master plan laying out all of the areas and deciding where you will need shade or decide where the covered patio or arbor will be and build the design from there. Once these areas are decided create a floor plan for the furniture and consider electrical needs.


Furniture: I saved my favorite for last, once all of the areas are decided begin to layout furniture pieces that suite your needs. Readers often ask where I like to purchase outdoor furniture and it really depends on your budget and location. Pottery Barn and The Backyard Store have some options when budget is not a concern. In the UK, I recommend The Garden Furniture Centre Ltd. The mistake often made is we forgo comfort not wanting to deal with cushion management. A simple solution is to build a storage box or purchase one to house the cushions. A place for everything, and everything in its place!


image {1,2,3,4-6,7}

  • Leslie Stewart

    What awesome outdoor spaces! Thanks for the inspiration. I am so ready for summer!

  • Cathy Wolfram

    Me to Leslie, I am working on two patio areas for different clients and needed some inspiration :) Summer is on the way!

  • Connie

    The link to your own pool construction was good to read, we’re planning to put in an in-the-ground pool this year. These patios are just beautiful.

    • Cathy Wolfram

      So glad you liked the article, it was quite a journey building a pool :)