Creating cohesion in your outdoor material choices

1 December, 2014

Designing a backyard that seems cohesive requires planning. The materials you use throughout the space play a huge part in the final product. For instance, you can tie your outdoor furniture sets, fence and patio together through material choice. Nice, huh? Of course, if you're going to pull off this highly coordinated effort, you'll need a few tips. Here's how to choose materials that unify the independent elements in your vision:

Use throughout
First and foremost, when you plan to unify a space through the materials you choose, you should be prepared to repeat. Applying wrought iron to your fence, patio furniture and outdoor firepits makes all those pieces seem like one planned space. Pick one key material and stick with it. You don't have to be exclusive – never-ending iron can be overpowering. Instead, use the material as an accent or focal point in several yard features, never letting it take over.

Find complements
Complementary colors cause one another to pop – blue seems more vibrant next to orange than next to green, for instance. The same goes for materials. Your key material can be made more glorious when used in conjunction with a secondary one. Some stellar combinations include wood and metal, metal and glass, brick and metal, and stone and wood. Sticking to a pair is easiest to pull off, though experienced designers often reach for a trifecta, such as wood, brick and metal. Remember that one material will be the star and the other is the supporting character.

Match your home
Your backyard design will look the most cohesive if you plan it with your house's architecture in mind. For instance, if you have stone details on your home, extend them to your yard. Stone makes a great patio material or table top. If your home features industrial metal window frames, pick outdoor sectionals with metal bodies. Your complementary ideas can come from your house's current architecture as well. However, don't let your home's state stop you from doing what you want. You can upgrade your house and yard at the same time to create a cohesive look. 

When in doubt, go for color
Extending your material match to your furniture may not always be practical – a stone bench isn't very cozy, after all. If buying wood or metal furniture isn't an option, then use color to match it to your material choice. For instance, a tan wicker piece looks great with a stone patio of a similar tone. Dark wicker, on the other hand, could bring out the deep shades in your iron fence.

Don't forget decorations
A well-placed tray or vase can tie your decor together outside. For example, a clay pot could complement clay tiles. Lay a wood serving tray filled with candles on your outdoor dining table if your deck is made of wood. The details help tie everything together and give your yard that clean and careful finish.