Spending time is so important to our bodies. It not only gives us a break from the indoor toxins we face for the majority of the day, but it also allows our bodies to reap the benefits from sunshine and naturally filtered air outdoors. One of the best ways to get motivated to spend more time outdoors is to create a space that you can truly enjoy outdoors. An outdoor living space is a space that you can use outside as you would an indoor space. The idea of entertaining, cooking and playing outdoors can be enhanced by a beautiful space that’s comfortable too.
Living in the Midwest, it can be tough to get outdoors all year-round, but that means in the summer we really take advantage of that outdoor space and outdoor area to entertain, cook and play.
No Added Moisture: Cooking often produces moisture from heat as well as boiling and simmering dishes. This moisture can affect the indoor air quality and allow many of the VOCs inside your home to off-gas at a higher rate.
No Combustion Gas: If you use gas appliances inside your home, like a gas stove, you’re adding combustion gas, or carbon monoxide (CO2) to the air inside your closed up home. When you cook outside, this just isn’t the case, as it’s expelled to the exterior of the home.
No Added Heat: During the warmer months, when the air conditioning is on, it’s counter-productive to turn on the stove or cook on the stove top. However, we don’t necessarily eat only raw and cold foods in the summer months. By cooking food outside, it allows the heat from cooking to be expelled outdoors, instead of warming the interior of your home.
Pinterest is full of ideas to create a comfortable, attractive cooking and dining space outdoors if you need ideas. My board below has some of the ideas I’ve found particularly useful that also don’t use or add harmful chemicals or products to your yard.
Here are some of my tips and tricks to create a fantastic outdoor dining and eating space:
OUTDOOR LIVING/RELAXING SPACE
Comfortable outdoor seating such as chairs or sectionals
Small side tables for drinks or potted plants
Hanging lights to make allow for outdoor time in the evenings
Outdoor rug (make sure it’s in a spot that allows the rug to dry out after rain)
Potted plants to make the space feel homier
You can also create a fire pit in your yard if you live in an area that allows these. There are many easy ideas to landscaping your own, or you can buy an elevated fire pit from Amazon, like these:
SUN ROOM/AREA FOR PLANTS
A sun room addition is a great place to enjoy natural sunlight, grow plants and keep the windows open as a breezeway of sorts into the home. Sun rooms are fantastic on the southern side of your home, but this may not always be logistically possible. Many people turn a current deck into a beautiful sunroom where they can have plenty of fresh air and enjoy a little bit more of nature inside their homes.
You can also use this room to grow herbs and small vegetables. Creating a small, attractive indoor garden is not only easy, but also cost effective. My board below are some ideas for easy gardening (most of which are indoors or in pots).
When it comes to planting, you can also include some plants that actually purify the air. There are some house plants that can actually remove VOCs from the air inside and in a sense purify your indoor air.
Be sure not to over-water your plants if you keep many of them in a small area. Over-watering can add quite a bit of moisture to the air and can then harm the indoor air quality rather than improve it.
SCREENED IN PORCH
There was a reason these screened in porches were originally added to homes and we’ve lost that true need for it over time. A screened in porch will help ventilate your home rather quickly as it has many windows on different sides of the room and home. It can also help cool your home off by letting night air inside during the summer months.
You can turn a screened in porch into a lovely sitting area to enjoy throughout the day and evening. This allows your body time to be near fresh air and gives it a small break from the toxins and chemicals that are in most homes.
If you do keep your windows open frequently with a screened in porch, you may notice you’ll have to dust more often. The dirt and debris from outdoor plants, roads and dust will travel in through screens and settle indoors. You can simply vacuum screens off, clean your windows and wet dust your house with these non-toxic versions:
BONUS: SHADED PLAY AREA
If you have children, you know that outdoor time usually means they sleep better, eat better and their demeanor improves. This is no coincidence. Being outdoors and spending time in fresh air and natural sunlight is good for all bodies. Making it a part of your regular habits is good for us and for our children.
One of my favorite places to get ideas for kids’ spaces outside is on Janet Lansbury’s Blog: Elevating Child Care where she talks about creating a “yes space” for small children. This is the idea that there is a designated area your child can play and explore the outdoors safely. This will help child-directed play and create a sense of exploration for your child.
Janet’s site has some great ideas for outdoor “yes” spaces that you could create for your child. Some are elaborate and some are a simple sandbox. Either way, having a small area in the yard or outdoors that your child can have play time outdoors will be an amazing benefit to their body and mind.
Would you share with me YOUR favorite way to get outside?