HGTV's Egypt Sherrod On What You Need To Create The Perfect Outdoor Escape

While your home may not have the capacity to create a more desirable living space, your backyard likely has plenty of untapped potential. As such, you could build a new deck or patio, string up some mood lighting, provide shade with a pergola, and/or create a setting for outdoor dining. Indeed, the choices are truly endless as you look to entertain friends and family or simply relax in the fresh air.

Have a shed or an accessory dwelling unit you can transform into an extra workspace or outdoor retreat? According to the American Planning Association, an accessory dwelling unit is an independent, stand-alone feature on the same lot as a single-family home. But these don't have to be tiny houses and can instead provide a bigger area for activities if your house is maxed out.

Egypt Sherrod knows how to maximize the potential of any home and then some. In fact, she has worked her magic to create more living space through easy renovations on the HGTV shows "Flipping Virgins" and "Married to Real Estate." Want to create a getaway only steps away from your backdoor? Here are some of Sherrod's best tips for creating a sanctuary in your own backyard.

Know what it's used for

Before designing and buying any items, figure out how you plan to use the outdoors to your advantage, which will provide a blueprint when picking out materials and décor. "Regardless of what you are creating — whether it be an art studio, workshop, meditation, hobby room, or garden retreat — having an idea of how you'll use your space will help tremendously when creating a place to feel at home and decompress," exclaims Sherrod (via Black Southern Belle). 

For example, when considering whether to turn a shed into an office, figure out what's needed to get the job done, as it can impact details like the power supply, according to Billy Oh. Even if you're planning to use a shed for more recreational activities rather than work, you'll probably still need electricity, maybe even water. How you plan to use the structure can also inform how much space you'll need. You may be able to buy something pre-assembled or create a custom design to fit your needs.

Similarly, when creating other areas in your backyard, like a patio for relaxing or a deck for dining, set those intentions early. Knowing exactly how you plan to use this area can help you set a budget, choose décor, and select materials.

Infuse comfort and creativity

The key to creating an outdoor living space that feels like an extension of your home is comfort. This means infusing some creativity and personality, so it feels like an oasis. "A[n outdoor escape] is a great opportunity to be expressive, think outside of the box, and have fun!" Sherrod tells Black Southern Belle. "It's a place just for you, so experiment with bold colors and accent décor until it feels like your personality. Whether you are recreating the comforts of home or trying out an entirely new arrangement for your getaway, let your [outdoor space] be your sanctuary."

Consider what will make your outdoor oasis most comfortable. It could be a screened-in porch to enjoy the outdoors while being protected from sun, wind, rain, or bugs, suggests McHale Landscape Design. Or, it might be designing a retreat where you can do art or enjoy your hobbies in peace. Of course, you might also want to create a dining area to entertain friends and family. Feel free to get creative with how you design and decorate, so it feels like somewhere you actually want to spend your time.

Don't forget about the humidity

Of course, decorating outdoors means considering different factors compared to doing so inside your home. For one, think about the weather and how it may affect the materials and décor you choose. "Make sure to keep climate in mind when picking out interior décor — especially humidity," warns Sherrod, according to Black Southern Belle. "While picking out your furniture and pillows, make sure to look for items that are made with durable and strong materials to beat the weather." After all, the last thing you want is for any pillows and cushions to fade in the sun or become waterlogged and moldy. "Also, be sure to have adequate windows or vents for airflow — this will keep you cool and comfortable," she says.

The materials you choose are just as important. On a deck, weather-treated wood can last for more than 30 years, according to DDT Home Transformations, LLC. And sealing concrete can help prevent cracks. Both provide a sturdy base for your outdoor area. The same goes for sheds, as their interiors are subjected to as much of the weather as a deck or patio. "When choosing flooring and wall coverings, look for products that are weatherproof, water resistant, and humidity friendly," says Sherrod. To transform a shed into an oasis, concrete and pressure-treated plywood are the best flooring options, according to Sheds Unlimited. They're durable and can provide the finished look that makes it feel like a cozy interior.

Choose the right furniture

Any furniture you pick out impacts the comfort of the space. But that doesn't mean you need to go out and buy the cushiest sofas and chairs. If you're decorating an outdoor area or shed, think about how it will reach the elements. "I recommend incorporating outdoor furniture because it's durable and can withstand any climate," Sherrod says, per Black Southern Belle. But some outdoor furniture materials are better than others. Teak is one of the best options because it's strong, won't ding or dent, and can last for more than 50 years, according to Patio Productions. Aluminum, wrought iron, steel, and composite wood are also great options for outdoor furniture.

You also have to consider how much room you have. "With limited space, smaller-scale furniture will make the space feel larger," advises Sherrod. "Instead of a sofa, perhaps go with a daybed. Instead of a table, perhaps a floating ledge. There are numerous options out there to turn a small space into a cozy getaway." In other words, make smart decisions so you don't overstuff the shed.

Consider a design theme

Much like how interior spaces have a design theme or style, your outdoor areas should, too. Now, they don't necessarily need to match. "I introduced real elements inspired by nature into my shed to create a comforting feeling and consistent design motif throughout," Sherrod says, per Black Southern Belle. Embracing nature in an outdoor area or shed can mean using natural materials and textures like wood and wicker. Likewise, adding potted plants and flowers can also help incorporate nature into your outdoor setting.

You can also bring out other indoor comforts like lighting, allowing you to enjoy your shed, patio, or deck well into the night. Layer it with overhead bulbs and small accents, suggests Acton ADU. Baskets and pillows can also make your outdoor living space feel like an extension of your home. "Just because it might be called a shed, doesn't mean it has to look like your typical shed! When creating your home away from home, show some personality up front. French doors (or in my case a grand staircase entrance), hanging plants, and quaint signs are all great options when adding some pop to your creation," explains Sherrod.