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Ask the Expert: Tips and Trends In Outdoor Design

by Ryan Hughes

Enjoyment of the out-of-doors and personal outdoor spaces is central to living in southern Florida and whatever the scope of your real estate or resources options abound for creating the perfect outdoor living area.

We discussed with Ryan Hughes, owner off Ryan Hughes Design/Build, an award-winning exterior builder, designer and landscape professional and a recognized leader in the exterior design field, tips and trends for creating outdoor spaces guaranteed to provide lasting leisure and enjoyment on any budget.

Hughes_Photo_1Personalize the Outdoor Plan
As with any project, planning is key. Whether simple landscaping to infinity pools, outdoor space planning requires examining the reality of the space parameters, desired use and overall outdoor living goals. The personalization of the plan can draw upon personal style and inspiration from the homeowner’s travels or life experiences. Ultimately, the most successful plan for outdoor living must include functionality and options for the desired use whether entertaining, relaxing or just family fun.

Extend The Indoors Out
A factor in outdoor design planning is the extension of a home’s interior design motif to the out of doors. From hardscapes to furnishings, focal points to color stories, exterior design can mirror interior design with styles from contemporary to old world, traditional to casual chic. Changing up the design scheme to create contrast can also provide a ice departure and a unique feel to the outdoors.

Explore The Elements of Nature
In creating an outdoor design, capitalizing on the natural elements that abound is a strategy for success. Whether sun or water, fire or flora, the use of multiple nature-focused elements within an outdoor space can add drama and create greater overall appeal. Stone fountains to infinity swimming pools, fire pots to rock hearths, there are numerous additions that can be made to any outdoor space to emphasize elements in nature.

Hughes_Photo_2Create Outdoor Rooms
Trending in outdoor design is the creation of outdoor rooms. From simply grouping furnishings to the construction of pergolas with columns and full kitchens, the sky can be the limit in outdoor rooms.

Outdoor trends
A growing trend in outdoor design also includes the addition of modern technology from performance fabrics to designer hardscapes. By incorporating the latest in modern achievements, unique materials, trending color ways and textural and landscaping elements, one-of-a-kind outdoor décor are being created. Another popular trend that is being included in outdoor design of every size are fire features. Fire tables, fire places and fire pots of all sizes and styles are easily added to warm up an outdoor space.

Professional Assistance
Many outdoor design projects can be undertaken by the homeowner. For projects beyond the scope of the homeowner, the use of a professional design build firm or landscape architect is recommended. Safety issues involved with outdoor features as well as space planning or knowledge of industry standards can require the expertise a professional can provide.

Hughes_Photo_3Blog Extra: Ask the Expert
For nearly two decades, Ryan Hughes has designed and built imaginative and elegant outdoor living spaces. His focus on outdoor design comes naturally as the son of a recognized Florida landscape design pioneer. With work representing more than $100 million for his clients and projects including custom designed pools, signature landscaping, and original water and fire features, he is an expert in his field. Ryan’s work has earned him multiple industry awards and has been featured in such publications as the “Dream Homes Series” and “Perspectives on Design.

With vast experience in Pool Engineering, Pool Construction and Outdoor Living Space Project Management, Ryan’s technical knowledge is second only to his design vision and sought after creativity. Exploring his expertise can benefit the luxury homeowner to the back-yard do-it-yourselfer.

What inspires your outdoor living designs?

I have been fortunate enough to have traveled the world from an early age. From those travels, I have been able to translate a global perspective and take inspiration from international venues and lifestyles. These cultural experiences and architectural influences have enabled a diversity of styles that is evidenced across our portfolio. These impressions also have become a driving force behind my passion to create the most unique, innovative swimming pools and outdoor living spaces anywhere.

As the principle in a successful design build company in Florida, can you share your company’s design philosophy?
Our design philosophy can be defined as capturing and creating “Artistry of Space.” With this philosophy, our clients’ design vision and our team’s knowledge and expertise come together to create personal outdoor spaces that are inviting, comfortable, safe and long lasting. Our team works to incorporate the classic design principles of proportion and balance and expert space planning within each product to create exteriors that are not only beautiful but also deliver proven functionality.

Hughes_Photo_4What are the most important components when creating an outdoor living space?
Although our history includes the creation of award-winning swimming pools and water-scapes, we realize that pools are just one component in any luxury outdoor living area. My team is knowledgeable in the full scope of outdoor design and the use of elements and features from tranquil pools to dynamic outdoor kitchens; relaxation points to the warmth and sparkle of fire pits. Our outdoor living designs comprise original viewpoints; each with a specific purpose and personal appeal. For any homeowner, their vision needs to be incorporated. That may include water, seating, fire or landscaping elements. The object is to create a space that is a perfect fit for their lifestyle.

How does your design process begin?
Our design process begins with learning about each client’s style preferences and vision for their outdoor living space. We strive to understand the scope of how they want to use the use of the space and the desired feel. We spend a lot of time listening and create cooperative planning model to bring together the desired elements that work within the space and their outdoor living goals.

What styles are trending in outdoor design?
Outdoor living is mirroring interior design as styles can span from old world to contemporary, traditional to casual. We are seeing in our work, however, a growing trend in the addition of modern technology in outdoors including performance fabrics to designer hardscapes. By incorporating the latest in modern technology as well as unique materials, trending color ways and textural and landscaping elements, one-of-a-kind outdoor décor can be created.

Does your process only include the structural and landscaping elements?
We work with each of our clients in whatever manner they require. For some, it may end with the completed hardscapes or landscapes. For others, we pull together the entire outdoor décor design with the addition of outdoor furnishings and accessories. In today’s outdoor living category, there are so many options from outdoor rugs and lighting to outdoor electronics and of course the very popular outdoor kitchen elements. Outdoor décor has come a long way from only a table and four chairs.

How do you keep current on all the new products and technology in outdoor living and outdoor décor?
We are active within industry organizations and attend national and international trade shows to keep current on what is happening in this category. It is an exciting time in outdoor and our firm is proud to be a part of adding the artistry to outdoor living. .

Ryan Hughes is founder/owner of Ryan Hughes Design/Build, Palm Harbor, Fla.