December 22, 2015
How to position your outdoor furniture
If you have a beautiful and inviting backyard, people will want to go there. They may want to go look at the plants, but they will probably just want to relax and "soak it all in". And for that, you will need a place for people to sit, and to put down their stuff. That is, tables and chairs. Unfortunately, so many times it becomes a treacherous trek, walking over and around obstacles. So you will need to design it with a little care. Here are some thoughts:
• Make it obvious where people should walk. If your garden is a confusing mess of plants scattered all over the place, don't get upset if people walk on top of them. And if all you have is a tiny path of "stepping stones", then you might as well have a sign that says "keep out" of your garden. People hate walking on stepping stones. Making your guests do a "tight rope" walk is no way to have an inviting garden. Give people a place to walk that doesn't include acrobatics, like a good chunk of ground. I have artificial turf here, so people can walk on that easily.
• Give people space between furniture. The same mistake that people make in their rooms they make outdoors - squeezing way too much furniture in, and making people have to squeeze between it. Design your outdoor space the same way as your rooms - give people a place to walk, to stand, to figure out where they're going to go. Then make the table accessible - most people want to put down their beverage before they sit. I try to keep the "leading edge" of the yard open, by putting the chairs on the other side of the table. This area in front of the table is a "milling around area". I like to sit, but a lot of people prefer to stand and socialize.
• Have other chairs that can be brought in. I have lightweight chairs in the garage that I can go get as needed. Also, it's best to have chairs that move. People like to move the chair closer to the table, or further away, or into the shade, or out of the shade. I have lightweight aluminum chairs.
I love being outdoors, especially in winter, in Phoenix. When I visit people, their backyard is usually the first place I wander to. And if there's a beautifully-designed and inviting space, I like to hang out there.
Posted by Brad Hall