How to create a multifunctional backyard

yard and deck design for functionLet’s face it, when the warmer weather hits, our backyard becomes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ for the entire family. It’s no longer a chunk of grass, it’s an extension of your home that wears many hats, an outdoor dining room to host friends, a playroom for your kids or simply or a backyard workshop (if you’re anything like me!)

And while we may retreat into hibernation during the harsh winters, once spring arrives there’s an urge to spend every possible moment in the outdoors while we can. So why not create a space that we can use for any occasion?

Here are three tips to create the ultimate multi-functional backyard retreat that will help you save pennies and space!

Stick to one surface material

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying your backyard should look boring! Far from it. However, if your yard has multifunctional spaces, using one material will help create a cohesive aesthetic. This can be especially helpful if you’re dealing with a small yard, as a as a single colour can create the illusion of a bigger space.

Plus, creating a unified surface gives you a blank canvas to play with, and allows you change up the look of your backyard at a moment’s notice. Instead, get creative with your backyard accessories, incorporating items such as upcycled furniture to add a personal touch.

If you’re sticking with one building material, I’m a big fan of MicroPro Sienna (pictured) as the wood of choice for outdoor projects. It’s a pressure treated wood that is environmentally-friendly and certified low VOC that comes ready-to-build in a beautiful brown tone, without initial staining.  Plus, Sienna can be used above or below ground and in fresh water, giving you that versatility to use it on a variety of projects. It’s great for big projects like decks or docks, it’s also a great option for fun side projects like raised planters or even children’s play sets. Whatever’s on your DIY bucket list this season, don’t be afraid to think a little ‘outside the (wooden) box’!

multifunctional yard designChoose outdoor furniture with versatility

Multi-purpose outdoor furniture is not only fun to experiment with; it maximizes your space. I’m a big advocate for getting the most function out of every piece– especially those you can make yourself! Luckily, my DIY go-to is the perfect addition to your yard – a multi-function raised planter box that can be used in 3 ways; a planter, bench and storage box!

The beauty of this DIY piece is that it allows you to easily switch up its utility based on your mood or activity. With yards getting smaller, planters are increasingly becoming the go-to alternative for gardening enthusiasts short on space.

Instead of taking up unnecessary space, this planter easily transforms into a bench, giving you additional seating for outdoor entertaining.  Your guests will thank you!

I’m also a huge fan of hidden storage. While yards were made to get messy, too much clutter can take away from the natural setting! If you’re hosting a last minute barbecue for friends, an outdoor storage box allows you to stash those toys or gardening tools at a moment’s notice. Plus, it’s a great place to keep blankets for those cooler summer evenings spent lounging on the deck.

simple peices in backyard and deck designInvest in simple pieces

You wouldn’t skimp on a bed or dining room table inside your house, so don’t pinch the pennies for those important purchases for you yard either!  Just like a good quality couch, certain staple pieces can anchor your outdoor space while creating a multitude of possibilities at the same time.
I can’t stress this enough – simplicity is key when selecting those anchor items. Invest in a harvest table, for example, and you’ll automatically inject some versatility. Its look can be elevated to a host formal dinner party with a nice table runner and some quality dishware or used as a buffet table serving up veggies platters and mini-burgers for your child’s birthday party.

Moving from dining to lounging, a good outdoor living room set can go far, especially with the increasingly popular “chat and chill” model of furniture. You can get the best bang from your buck by investing in furniture with a variety of configurations – comfy lounge chairs and sectional pieces that can be grouped with ottomans, coffee tables or side tables or separated off into intimate vignettes.

Ultimately, your backyard is the most coveted ‘room’ of your house once the warm weather hits – don’t let the space go to waste! Invest in simple anchor pieces and materials that can be complimented by multifunctional items and clever use of accessories.  This will help boost the functionality of your outdoor space and open up its potential year after year.

chris palmer, designerOften billed as Canada’s favourite handyman, Chris Palmer has quickly become a household name through his thoughtful and creative DIYs. With a strong focus on handcrafted woodwork, Chris has turned his passion into a career – creating custom projects through his company “Handcrafted by Chris Palmer”. He made his national debut on the hit HGTV show Canada’s Handyman Challenge, and is now a regular guest expert on the Global Morning Show in Toronto. You can check him out at

Author: Lifestyles Author

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