Making the Most of All Your Usable Space
The holiday weekend is here. Ahhh…Memorial Day Weekend! Quite possibly my favorite weekend of the year. The kick-off to summer and all the good things the warm summer months bring: Family picnics at Belle Isle Park. Horseback riding at Maybury Riding Stable in Northville. Summer concerts at Chene Park Ampitheatre. Good times all, but perhaps my favorite summer activity is watching my husband, Carl, grilling dinner, enjoying a glass of wine on the patio and relaxing in my own backyard. (Notice I said “watching my husband grill”. That’s because we have an unspoken rule; I cook the majority of the meals during the cold months and he handles all the grilling in the summer.)
Are you making good use of your backyard? Your backyard is really an extension of your home. No less important than your kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms and too many home owners don’t take advantage of this very usable space.
I designed my backyard with lots of green space; mainly because I’m not super creative but also because I enjoy a more relaxed setting. I sprinkle a little color here and there with two Rose of Sharon bushes, a climbing rose bush and every year, I place a few pots of annuals (petunias, marigolds and begonias) around the patio. Because I prefer a simple, comfortable setting, I selected a 7-piece patio set that I found at Home Depot. I found a Hampton Bay set when the store was closing out their old inventory to make way for the new models. I scooped it up for under $250. (Yea, me!) Even without such a deep discount, you can still find quality, affordable patio sets for under $500. If you choose a more formal or elegant set, expect prices to range from $1,000 – $2,000. Whatever your style, start with a quality patio set and take it from there.
Helen Harris knew in the first three minutes of the tour that this was her home. The 2,678 sq ft colonial in the Southfield subdivision, Twyckingham Valley, would be the perfect place to raise her young son and daughter. Built in 1970, the property had only one owner who maintained the home beautifully for 38 years, but hadn’t updated its interior in decades. Harris looked past the blue shag carpet in the living room and the foil wallpaper in the main bath. She knew she wanted certain features and this one checked all the boxes: 4 bedrooms, 2 full and 2 half baths, circular driveway, attached 2-car garage and a full, finished basement. Yes, this one had the space and amenities she could work with, but what especially peaked her interest and sealed the deal was the generous pie-shaped backyard complete with an inground pool. Helen and her husband, Charles, closed on their purchase in August 2009 and quickly got to work on renovations to bring the interior up to date. By the following spring, they were ready to turn their attention to the outside spaces.
Helen readily admits that the design is all Charles because, like me, she lacks that creative gene, but boy did he deliver! Paramount to Charles, was the need for privacy and a comfortable setting for backyard entertaining that took advantage of the inground pool. He started by adding a privacy fence around the perimeter. The previous owner had installed a tennis court which was now overgrown with weeds and had fallen into disrepair. He converted that space into a basketball court by adding DuraPlay outdoor court flooring and an inground basketball hoop. The court was a big hit and their home quickly became the “go to” spot for their children’s friends.
Helen wanted a stress-free environment where she could decompress after a long day at work. To achieve this goal, Charles added a 7-piece patio set with umbrella in the main patio area. He added two chaise lounges with a fire pit poolside where Helen could put her feet up and look out over the pool at night. Charles has continued to tweak his design over the years by adding a border of Arborvitae trees along the back fence and various decorative shrubbery and flowers. On Mother’s Day this year, he earned extra brownie points by surprising his wife with a three-person swing with a canopy. All of the hard work Charles has done has paid off. He and Helen are preparing for the summer gatherings and quiet evenings that are sure to come and they take pride in the beautiful home they have created.
So, as we head into summer, take time to enjoy your outdoor spaces as much as you enjoy indoors. If you’re like me and not very creative, you can always get design ideas from websites like House Beautiful, Country Living and Architectural Digest and you don’t have to break the bank to create a setting that suits your taste. Whether you choose a simple or elaborate design, the goal is to create an environment that reflects your unique personality. Most importantly, a beautifully designed backyard will ensure that you utilize your entire home.
Feel free to share photos of your backyard space in the comments section. (I told you I’m not creative so I’m looking for more ideas!) Have a safe and happy holiday weekend!