Backyard Spaces: How to Design them Beautifully

Meghan Dobish has been a head designer at Lawrence Mayer Interiors for almost 20 years. She began her career after graduating from Parsons School of Design and working with several notable firms in New York, including Victoria Hagan Inc. Meghan enjoys creating an environment that reflects the unique style and taste of each client; but always present in her designs are a modern sensibility and practicality- an approach that is greatly influenced by her busy young family. Her work has been featured in Design NJ magazine, New York Spaces, the various other publications

Backyard Spaces: How to Design them Beautifully

One of our favorite things to do this gray time of year is to dream about the warm weather to come and time spent outdoors on our decks, patios, and porches. Although many people don’t make the connection, designing outdoor spaces is really no different than designing interiors.  

To begin, the main task is space planning; creating “rooms” by the purposeful placement of furniture, and then further defining those areas with a change of material underfoot- crushed gravel, bluestone slabs, or even outdoor rugs. Additionally, tall potted plantings like grasses or dwarf arborvitaes, can provide “walls” or screens and a nice backdrop to the setting.

The next objective is to add color and texture. Just like with interiors, color pallets drive the mood of the space- red is warm and exciting, blue is cool and coastal, while gray and neutrals are sophisticated and understated. A singular color pallet is more restful, while a combination of colors is more vibrant and creates energy. When using a neutral pallet, introducing texture and pattern become vital to add interest. This can easily be done with outdoor textiles. Chunky knit throw pillows, crisp awning striped cushions or textured throws are easy additions and usually all you need.

Once the main spaces are planned, walk around and look for opportunities to create vignettes, small moments of interest or useful spaces in your yard that create another opportunity to pause and or utilize the space more. This could be a small outdoor bar cart or a water feature.

Finally, considering the limited season we have to enjoy the nice weather it’s so important to think through potential spaces NOW, while it’s still winter, to ensure you have time for everything to come together and be ready to settle right in on that first warm evening!


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