Best Outdoor Home Projects for Small Spaces
Not everyone lives in a large home, or one that has yard space. Modern living includes a large number of people living in condos or townhomes, where outdoor areas are community areas except for patios or decks included with each individual unit. It would be unfair not to address home improvement for these areas, as many people choose this as their home location. In this article, we will address maximizing the outdoor living experience with these limited areas.
Often the improvements are required by homeowners’ CC and R agreements to be temporary, and not to extend beyond the homeowner’s personal unit area. I used to live in a condominium, on the garden level, where I had a large patio to work with, but units above had small decks. I had a wonderful neighbor who loved having a deck and wanted to make it into a cozy but comfortable living space. She wanted shade, outdoor furniture, barbecue capabilities, storage, and a garden. She also liked feeding the birds. Her name was Ann, so let us discuss how she implemented the “Ann Plan.”
Shade—Ann was able to install a retractable awning that lowered the temperature by at least 10 to 15 degrees when employed. It was great, she had a crank model, but they also come with electric motors. Before she got that, she had a shade umbrella. Both provided her a cooler place to settle and watch the stream and nature during the summer, and would be good choices for anyone living in areas with limited outdoor space.
Outdoor Furniture—There are so many types of outdoor furniture that can fold out to be chairs, lounges, etc. There are tables and benches that are attached to balcony and deck railings, and fold away when not in use. Ann had a special bench made that provided service for #2, #3, and #4 in this list, and was amazingly comfortable. The bench had a storage cabinet underneath, and a portable barbecue, tools, propane, even utensils could easily be pulled out and set up so that all the cooking could be done with items that were kept in the bench. It also was the place to store a watering can for her garden. She hired a cabinet maker who was quite creative to help design and then build this piece of furniture.
Barbecue—Barbecue grills come in all sizes and configurations, some of which are small and portable. If you like to barbecue, you should not be deprived of the opportunity. Sometimes configuring a small area is more challenging than a large area, so do not neglect the opportunity to work with a professional who may have ideas and connections to things that you never dreamed even existed.
Storage—As mentioned in the Ann Plan above, a simple but clever way to provide for items that were used on the deck, but hard to store inside, was devised. Furniture can be made to be storage as well, cabinets come in all different sizes and shapes, and can be created to be used overhead or under feet, or somewhere in between.
Garden—A garden can be created in almost any size space. Ann introduced me to something called a Tower Garden, it has a large reservoir of water at the bottom, extends upward about 4 to 5 feet, allows planting of 18 different plants, and can be used to grow flowers, vegetables, or both. I have one to this day, it uses no soil, and there is a pump with a “shower cap” that distributes water automatically to feed the plants with water and liquid fertilizer. And it’s set on a timer, so all I need to do on a daily basis is rotate it ¼ turn so that all the plants end up with an even share of sunlight over time. It requires only 3’ by 3’ of space, and it grows healthy veggies like crazy! The Chicago International Airport has some of these and they grow herbs for restaurants in the airport. Commercially available planters are also available, and custom planters can be created for your outdoor area. Once again, you should not be deprived of your desire to garden simply by limited space.
Feed the Birds—We all know that bird feeders come in a variety of sizes and configurations for different species of birds. It is another way to feel like you are contributing to nature.
Most likely, at least something we have mentioned above has caused a tingle inside. If you will treat your outdoors like your indoors, you will find many ways to make that part of your home as comfortable and appealing as your living room. So let’s dust off our outdoor cookbooks and take another look at that patio or deck, let your creative juices flow and let’s decide what we can do to make the next outdoor season one to remember.