Your property - create an outdoor garden oasis

In the August issue of Easy DIY magazine, the DIY Divas show you how to build your own firepit for entertaining outdoors during the winter or summer months. A firepit is just one of the ways that you can increase outdoor entertainment, but there are many other ways to extend your living spaces outdoors and make the most of a garden or balcony.

We South Africans naturally move more of our attention toward the outdoors as the weather starts to warm up. Thoughts of sipping cool beers while sitting comfortably atop cozy loungers and braais instantly come to mind at the mere mention of summer. The last few years, however, have brought a dramatic increase in the money and time spent on improving our outdoor living spaces.
More homeowners are staying put and improving their current property, and gardens – whether a small flat or townhouse balcony or a medium to large – have become an extension of the house. Outdoor kitchens, entertaiment areas, and decks are becoming popular features that do add value. However, as we spend more money on these outdoor investments, it becomes increasingly important to design our spaces right.
Keep in mind that it is important to conform with the design of the house if you’re installing anything permanent outdoors. That’s one huge mistake that people make.
Permanent structures such as decks and patios should harmonize with the original architecture of your home, and landscaping should follow suit as well.

ABOVE: A more temporary arrangement, and one that does not require planning permission, is to erect a sail shade awning over your seating or entertainment area.

Creating a space that's comfortable and stylish makes everyone feel welcome, whether its for informal family get-togethers, or entertaining guests
Exterior spaces are just as much in need of decorating as interior spaces, and before you begin to decorate, think about how you plan to use your outdoor space, and how you can get the best out of the available space. And don't be afraid to use colour and texture when you’re designing for outdoors, these elements are a great way to inject your personality.
TIP: Use rugs to anchor furniture groupings, just as you would inside. There are such great fabrics out there now with a wide variety of colours and patterns that you can customize to your personality.

Start creating your space with a great piece of furniture as the focal point. It's worth investing in outdoor furniture made of the best quality wood for the outdoors, as this type of furniture can withstand the elements and will last for years.
If your budget doesn't allow for expensive furniture, look for pieces made from wood, plastic or metal in coordinating styles and shapes that appeal to you - or make your own with reclaimed timber.

New furniture can be an investment that you don't regret if you intend to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Secondhand furniture or retro pieces can add charm and quirkiness to your patio scheme. If you don't have much money to invest, go with plastic furniture and spray-paint it custom colours with Rust-Oleum's Spray for Plastic.

Once the large furniture pieces are selected, accessories like cushions and toss pillows can add pops of colour.
Lush green, turquoise and rust add an elegant playful touch to neutral furniture.

Create a sophisticated environment by keeping accessories simple, or mix-and-match bright, patterned pieces.

View your patio or deck as an extension of your living space and design it based on how you will use it.
Even a small outdoor area can serve dual purposes if you choose multi-functional pieces, such as a bench or chairs that allow for dining as well as a conversation.
TIP: Don’t forget about storage. You still need a place to put the cushions and outdoor accessories. If you plan to make your own outdoor furniture, incorporating storage is fairly easy with lift off lids or seat, but is something you have to keep in mind when buying furniture.

Planters and lighting can be used to complete the look, and will create a relaxed atmosphere. Tall planters filled with green foliage can define your space and add privacy.
Lighting - especially L.E.D. lighting - is essential for illuminating an outdoor space and for creating ambiance for night-time gatherings, or for evening relaxation.

Simple touches can transform outdoor spaces into inviting summer retreats. As an alternative to a permanent structure - that requires planning permission - a freestanding gazebo can be used to create a stylish outdoor retreat.
For those living in flats and townhouses and a small balcony, it's important to make the most of what you have and work with the available space. Take the time to look at the layout and area that's available to determine what can be done. Spend a little bit of energy sprucing it up to extend your living space for the summer months.

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