Design Series: Planning for Outdoor Living

It is absolutely frigid today in Austin! Yes, I hear you, New York, Boston and Chicago… what does Austin know about frigid, right? Well, um, okay, there isn’t any snow on the ground and spring is a lot closer for us than it is for you.

Image by that hipster Anne Taintor

The thing we have in common is this: while we are all gathered around the hearth, trying to keep warm, it’s the perfect time to dream up how you want to live when it’s warm enough to be outside again.

How do you want to live in your outdoor space? What would be too perfect to even consider? Consider it! Over the next month, I’ll be sharing inspirational images and sites that will support your ultimate vision of your outdoor spaces, and some ideas and resources to make it a reality, with budget in mind. We here at Spark are all about good design for everyone, no matter the budget!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will be to do the dreaming. Dream now, no constraints, no boundaries.

Pedal powered roller coaster in Japan.

I once led a classroom of third graders through a design exercise for their backyards – wow, the possibilities are limitless if you allow it. One boy had a roller coaster that took him from his 2nd floor bedroom to his backyard pool/waterpark. That’s what I’m talking about!

How about a family friendly recreation area, complete with treehouse?

Photograph by: Brett Gundlock/National Post, NP

A food producing wonderland garden, brimming with life (and maybe bees, goats ,and chickens)?

A retreat for serenity and calm?

How about a party palace, with places for dancing, conversation, or a sparkling starlit dinner?

We’ll look at each of these sorts of spaces in the next few weeks and talk about what goes into the planning of them, including function, mood, lighting, color, separation from (or integration into) surrounding landscape. Until next week, just dream it!

Inspiration pavilions.

Inspiration pavilions.

Snuggling up with friends on an outdoor couch with a fire in the firepit (or chimenea if there is a burn ban in effect) is so attractive this time of year. It just makes conversation flow. A Spark client is considering a structure for her firepit/conversation area so I went to one of my favorite [...]

Chip in!

Chip in!

So Christmas is over for 2010 and New Year’s Eve is beckoning. Before all the parties kick in, make a resolution to chip in. If you had a fresh tree this year, please consider recycling your Christmas tree and turning it into a resource. Bonus! Trees collected in many cities are recycled into mulch, which [...]

Shopping Trip for Holiday Gardens!

Shopping Trip for Holiday Gardens!

I buzzed into The Great Outdoors on South Congress in Austin last week to swoop up some plants for winter pots out back (fav find was artichokes – so gorgeous with their outsized silvery blue leaves) and found myself in the midst of some serious Christmas cheer. Loved this green gazing ball ($30), set like [...]

Spring flowering bulbs… now is the time in Central Texas!

Spring flowering bulbs… now is the time in Central Texas!

We here at Spark are always discussing fresh ideas for design, color ways, and opportunities to support our clients in making meaningful shifts in their surroundings. At our delicious lunch yesterday (thank you, Blue Star Cafeteria), we talked about the joyful impact of spring flowering bulbs. We love the way they look scattered in drifts [...]

#2 Lawn Options Series: Eat it!

#2 Lawn Options Series: Eat it!

We love our lawns but, much like your husband’s brother who came for a week two years ago, they suck up assets and never contribute to the household. Lawns pollute: when we mow we pollute big time – stats in last week’s post here. Lawns cost big bucks: gas, fertilizer, water bill, tools to care [...]

Welcome From the Outside In

Welcome From the Outside In

Being one of the fresh and zesty new Spark designers, this is my first post for Spark Interior Style. As Spark’s Exterior Stylist, here’s where I’d like to begin, with the idea of welcome. I’ve been thinking about it so much lately. Some homes are pretty bland at first glance, while some just look so [...]