Advice for Making a Walled Courtyard Appear Bigger

Posted by admin - March 30, 2017 - Designer Insights, Inspiration

Living in a city can have its downfalls, one being that outside space is often limited to a high-walled, dingy-looking courtyard. Fortunately, with a few tricks and a little interior design know-how, it is possible to give the illusion of having extra space in a small exterior courtyard.

1. The illusion of space

Avoid using large paving slabs or wide decking planks in a small area. These will just make the courtyard seem even smaller! Instead, choose smaller tiles and decking materials that are proportional to the area that is being covering. Also, try not to mix and match flooring in the same area. It’s always best to just stick to one material. Using too many different textures will result with the area looking cluttered.

2. Bringing the courtyard to life with light

Try to steer clear of placing lights on the boundary walls; this will only exaggerate how close they are. Instead, place up lights underneath specimen plants and down lights to illuminate different areas of interest or a seating area.

3. Space saving furniture

Most people like to sit out in the fresh air once in a while and when furnishing the outside space, it should be treated in the same manner as an indoor room. Oversized bulky furniture wouldn’t be brought to fit into a small living room, so follow the same rules for the courtyard. Small, light, airy furniture or even fold up furniture that can be easily moved around is the key to making the outdoor space look larger. A small built in seating area could even be incorporated into a flower border.

4. Creating reflections

A mirror is a great way to trick the mind into thinking the courtyard is larger than it actually is. A strategically placed mirror can make the courtyard look like it extends further than it actually does.

5. A water feature

The addition of a small pool or other water feature can also create a focal interest point and depth in a small yard. A reclaimed kitchen sink surrounded with ferns and water plants are perfect for this.

5. Pots and borders

Although pots are a great asset for growing plants in small areas, too many different sized and coloured pots scattered around will make the courtyard look cluttered. If pots are used, arrange them in small groups of various sizes. Narrow raised borders are an ideal way to make the most of a small courtyard with the odd pot to give variation and interest.

6. Lush planting

Just because a courtyard is small it doesn’t limit you to planting only small plants; in-fact planting larger plants will give the illusion of height and space.

Use a mixture of plant sizes with the larger ones at the back. Grow climbing plants up boundary walls so that the eye is drawn upwards instead of straight at the boundary wall.

Another thing to take into consideration is colour. Brightly coloured flowers of orange and reds tend to ‘jump out’ at you, whereas the likes of blue and lilac tend to blend in and look further away than they actually are. Using subtle shades of colour at the back of your display and bright bold colours at the front will give the illusion of space.

Planting large dark leaved specimens, which create areas of space and shadows between their leaves, at the back with the smaller, lighter leaved plants that reflect the light being positioned foremost will also give the same illusion.

With a little imagination, even the smallest of courtyards can be converted into an outside hidden oasis of colour and scents and become a tranquil space to escape from the humdrum of life in the city.