Tips and tricks from remodeling my outdoor space

When John and I decided to update our outdoor space, we knew we wanted to create a private oasis, built to last. What we ended up with is the most beautiful outdoor space in the city--and I don't think I'm exaggerating! I learned some great tricks, tips and ideas throughout the process that I'm happy to pass along to you. 

Choose materials wisely

Steel: First, we chose to build our arbor out of steel instead of wood because it is low to no maintenance and will last forever. I still wonder why so many exterior structures are built with wood. I also love the sleek look of the steel. 

Ipe Wood: Durable and rot resistant in addition to beautiful, Ipe is definitely my wood of choice for outdoor structures. We used it to build our walls and trellises, and I couldn't be happier with the rich red color the wood adds to the overall look. Another tip: I use Penofin Oil every year to refresh the wood's natural red hue. 

Glass: I love our glass railings! They are only there if you look for them, but once you spot them, you instantly appreciate the architectural, airy element they provide. 

Fiberglass: All of our planters are made of indestructible fiberglass.  I love the modern, yet understated look. 

Honed granite: Our gorgeous built-in gas fireplace features a honed granite surround, which I just love. The granite is as beautiful as it is durable--no sealing or worrying!

Sunbrella Fabric: Our light gray fabric awning adds such a light and breezy feel to the space. Plus, Sunbrella Outdoor Fabrics are incredible because they are the most durable, weather-resistant fabric you can find on the market. 

Consider how colors work together

Pavers: One of the most striking features of our deck are the 18x18 pavers we chose in three complimentary shades of gray. It's a timeless yet unique look that I know I will appreciate for years to come.

Trees: We use boxed trees to soften the space and add greenery year round. My advice is to hire a professional to help you select the right trees for your space. We chose a combination of Madison Birches, an Ivory Silk Japanese Tree Lilac, Yellow-Groove Bamboos and Cordon Sargent Crabapple Espalier trees.

Flowers: All of our planters are hooked up to an irrigation system so that we don't have to worry about remembering to water. The flowers we chose for the space provide the right colors and coverage and include Dark Purple Verbena, Purple Verbena Bonariensis, Rhythmic Blue Hydrangea, Burgundy Stained Glassworks Coleus, White Cirrus Dusty Miller and Silver Falls Dichondra.

Lighting: After working in real estate for so many years, I have a great appreciation for the importance of lighting--it really can make or break a room. We installed individually-dimming lights over all of the planters, trees, and dining areas to create the perfect ambiance for any occasion. 

I can't tell you how much John and I enjoy entertaining in our new space. Having the built-in grill on the kitchen balcony also adds a great level of functionality--we can easily run food from the kitchen straight out to the grill. We also installed separate sound systems for the upper and lower decks to allow for similar flexibility since after all: it's all about setting the right mood!

If you are considering an outdoor space remodel and have questions or are looking for a great architect or designer, I used Thomas Roszak Architecture and Suzanne Lovell Inc. Please email if you are looking for another type of referral, I'd love to help!