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Style Magazine

California Living

May 30, 2014 11:27AM ● By Style

Photo by Brian Kellogg Photography

by Kerrie L. Kelly, ASID

Lucky enough to live in the Golden State, we’re always looking for ways to leverage outdoor square footage as an extension of our interior space. Backyards, side yards and porch areas provide valuable real estate that can beautifully merge style and utility. Check out the following tips to maximize the roles these areas play.


Think of this area as the grand entry to your property, linking the interior and exterior living spaces.
  • Highlight your entrance and doorway area by adding a splash of color at the entrance.
  • Think of your doormat as the “flooring” to your entry. Consider natural fibers to provide an organic feel and gracious welcome.
  • Add planters to soften your home’s exterior. Interesting, textural plants displayed in zinc, concrete or colored pottery containers greet guests and passersby.

SIDE YARDPhoto courtesy of KKDL.

While some may feel a side yard is too small to pay much attention to when planning outdoor designs, it can be an intimate space for herbs, vegetables or a small bistro table setting.
  • Raised beds lend order and structure to any kitchen garden. Depending on the dimensions, they can also be kid- and grandparent-friendly, so be thoughtful about height and yard placement.
  • Reclaim unused indoor seating pieces and place them outside for dining al fresco. A fresh coat of paint on a side table can add unexpected color and character outdoors.
  • •    Add some Italian white lights to your side area to further create ambiance and an alternative light source.

BACKYARDPhoto by Brian Kellogg Photography

Even if there isn’t room for a huge dining set, nestling in a couple chairs makes for a nice lounge space. An overhead trellis can bring the inside out, and allow for a ceiling fan to move air around.
  • Consider a green wall as a privacy buffer via potted plants or vertical trellis applications.
  • Crushed rock is a versatile, low-maintenance and affordable solution for creating pathways and furniture landings. Just as we often see in the Napa Valley, when pebbled paths are incorporated, another layer of texture and interest is created.
  • Allow for moveable furnishings to accommodate smaller or larger parties. Indoor/outdoor performance fabrics not only add color, but softness and durability to seating and dining areas, too.


What better use for a slim strip of land than a European-inspired bocce ball court? Get family and guests out from in front of the big-screen TV and encourage a little friendly competition with a classic game.
  • Enclose an area by planting a dense lavender, grass or boxwood border to create a sensory experience.
  • Use candles and lanterns to create a mood for all to participate in outdoor games. Should you have enough space, a moveable fire pit is always a welcome addition.
  • Don’t forget to make a simple playlist that can be enjoyed for any outdoor event.

Kerrie L. Kelly is an award-winning interior designer, author and multimedia consultant. She has authored two books: ‘Home Décor: A Sunset Design Guide,’ published by Oxmoor House, and the newly released ‘My Interior Design Kit,’ with Pearson Professional and Career Education. To contact her, visit or call 916-919-3023.