Make your outdoor living space as comfortable as possible by adopting the following advice of Los Angeles garden designer Stefan Hammerschmidt.
MAKE A PLAN: Remember you're out to create a cohesive look, like making house and garden join seamlessly with continuous concrete floors and separated only by glass doors.
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STRETCH THE SEASONS: Design the outdoors as a place to live in year-round. Don't think of it as a place to visit on special occasions. Think comfort and flexibility as well as outdoor fireplace, shower, spa, and bed.
HARMONIZE COLORS: An exterior room needs a harmonious color palette. Plant hues of bronze, lush green and gray-blue can be set off by soft gray flooring and fencing. Cushions can pick up the colors of orange-blooming variegated cannas, yellow buffalo grass, or bronze New Zealand flax.
CREATE A JOURNEY: Even in a small space it is important to create a journey. From the front gate, for instance, you may have the thrill of walking on water (stepping stones in a shallow lily pond) to get to the front door.
KEEP IT EASY: Stefan Hammerschmidt loves concrete. "It's inexpensive, easy to use, and I love it contrasted against lush green," he says.
REFLECT YOURSELF: Whether you're designing your own outdoor space or asking a designer to handle the job, be sure that it reflects who you are.
BE THEATRICAL: One dramatic idea can make a small space really special. In one garden, Hammerschmidt used an airplane wing to form a front yard fence.
For more information, visit Stefan Hammerschmidt's website.