Breathing life into outdoor spaces

Exterior design tips from Deckorators' Jase DeBoer
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

When the spring comes, it’s inevitable that people will want to be outside, basking in the warm, fresh air. But for multi-residential building residents, finding that comfortable outdoor space isn’t always easy. Not all apartment units come with balconies and not all properties are designed with shared spaces in mind.

So what are the basics of creating inviting, communal outdoor spaces that will attract residents and give them that open-air refuge they deserve? According to Jase DeBoer, Senior Category Marketing Manager, Deckorators, it all comes down to safety, aesthetics and functionality.

Lighting the way…

Rooftop patios, meandering walkways and strategically placed benches amid beautiful gardens can be attractive havens for tenants, day or night, provided they are well-lit for both ambiance and safety.

Cap lights are a popular way to add lighting to any deck space, says DeBoer. “Both solar and low voltage options are available and will add ambiance to any property, while step lights and decorative post sconces are equally stylish and effective.”

Another method commonly used to enhance a property is “spotlighting”. By shining a light on key exterior features, like fountains, flowerbeds, shrubs or signage, the other benefit is that crucial sightlines are created for residents out strolling in the evening hours, while acting as a deterrent for unlawful activity.

Poolside safety

For apartment buildings equipped with outdoor swimming pools, the arrival of summer means these cordoned-off areas are about to become hubs of boisterous activity. But appealing as they are,  swimming pools can be burdensome and costly to maintain.

Aside from the upkeep of the pool itself, the surrounding area must be beautifully landscaped, well-lit, comply with all safety standards, and designed with a surface area built to withstand moisture while providing great traction to avoid slip and falls.

DeBoer advises property managers to invest in decking material and technology that will withstand the elements while putting the safety of residents first.

“Composite decking technology has evolved, delivering greater surface traction than traditional materials,” he says. “Perfect for pools, hot tubs, docks and more, composite decking is incredibly strong and lightweight, making it an ideal solution for balconies and shared patio spaces.”

Railing options that provide safety without obstructing the view is also something DeBoer recommends. A variety of styles are available today—from sleek, contemporary aluminum railings in brushed titanium finishes, to classic rails in colours and tones that blend well with the scenery, railings can enhance a pool area while still fulfilling the important function of keeping residents safe.

“To help create a cohesive space, consider incorporating the same decking material for built-in planters and benches or even on top of the railing,” he says. “This offers a larger surface area for setting down beverages or snacks when entertaining.”

Same space, different tastes

Shared spaces brings many competing tastes and colour preferences – in other words, catering to a building full of residents isn’t easy. For this reason, most designers will encourage building owners to opt for simplicity in their décor and landscaping choices. Seasonal planters add a lovely touch to an entranceway but they shouldn’t be too busy or require significant upkeep.

On the deck-front, while many decking options feature trend-forward colours and textures, a safe bet may be something timeless and appealing to all. It’s also important to keep durability in mind. DeBoer notes, “Shared spaces often come with a great deal of use, therefore you will want products that will last while being beautiful and functional. Consider products that offer extended warranties to ensure the space looks good for years to come.”

Jase DeBoer is Senior Category Marketing Manager at Deckorators.

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