What you need to make the most of your outdoor spaces

Portable Patio Evaporative Cooler

(BPT) – Outdoor living is hotter than ever — in more ways than one — and creating spaces that are not only functional but downright enjoyable has become the goal of most homeowners today. No matter how you like to use your outdoor and semi-outdoor environments, you’re probably looking for ways to maximize your spaces and make them as pleasant as possible, for your family and for your guests.

Here are tips to consider for optimizing your home’s outdoor spaces to be beckoning and comfortable.

Practical and comfortable seating solutions

When thinking about what type of seating make sense for each outdoor area, consider who will be using it, for what purpose and for how long. Make a list of how you want to use the space. For instance, do you intend for this to be a kid-friendly area for brief breaks between active outdoor games? Will you use it for large family get-togethers or small informal parties? Do you need to consider sturdy seating for people engaged in DIY hobbies or getting together for a simple outdoor meal? Or do you want a relaxing oasis where a few adults can lounge and sip cool drinks (with little umbrellas in them, ideally) for hours?

Seating that can withstand the elements is a must, but it is a good idea to be realistic regarding out-of-season storage. When it’s time to put your furniture away, do you have enough storage space? Choose furniture designed for the outdoors that’s easy to both store and care for. Prioritize what you want most, but also be practical. What kind of furniture will get the most use?

Make sure to try seating out before you buy. A simple stone bench, picnic table or wooden chair may look fine, but if you really want to make the most of the outdoors, choose at least a couple of options offering maximum comfort.

Keeping cool

Shade is your best friend when trying to keep any outdoor or semi-outdoor space pleasant. If you don’t have shade trees to help block the sun during peak hours, installing an awning, canopy or shade cloth can do the trick. Retractable awnings are very practical, as you can use them only when needed. Even a large table umbrella — strategically placed — can help provide some relief from the sun. Take note when your space is sunniest throughout the day, as well as what direction the sunlight primarily comes from, so you’ll know where to plan your shade cloth or awning.

To help cool an outdoor area or even a semi-outdoor space like a garage, an evaporative cooler like the Portacool 510 is a great option. A compact evaporative cooler differs from an air conditioner in that it works with water and the ambient air to naturally cool areas like your deck, porch or patio. Unlike a fan, this type of cooler doesn’t just blow hot air around — and it’s not a mister, so the area around it won’t get wet. You can use it in a variety of outdoor settings to help keep people (and pets!) cooler on hot days. Even better, it is mobile and compact with rubberized wheels, so it can be moved into any space where you need cooling comfort.

Strategic accents, whether visual, functional or sensory, can also make a difference in creating the mood you want to evoke. Aesthetically, choose either calming or vibrant colors, depending on your desired effect. Plants and flowers are an easy addition to round out your space. For the ultimate patio or deck oasis in the evening hours, a string of fairy lights or vintage-style bulbs are a simple lighting option that can have a big impact. Or consider lanterns or solar path lights to add extra charm and ambiance to any outdoor area. Lastly, whether your space is for leisure or work, a good sound system can make an enormous difference. Set up high quality and easy-to-use speakers, so you can listen to music or the big game.

On the flip side, if your outdoor area is all about creating DIY projects or working on hobbies, set up a sturdy worktable. Make sure you have all the supplies you need nearby in waterproof containers, and have appropriate lighting installed in case you need to keep working after the sun goes down.

When preparing your outdoor space, don’t be afraid to make it your own. Outdoor spaces offer a lot of flexibility when it comes to design and purpose, but make sure you have the necessities that fit with any area. Visit to learn more about your outdoor cooling options and make the most of your time outdoors this summer.


See article on SFGATE here