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Create an Asian-Inspired Outdoor Room

Author: Ralph King

Everyone needs a little getaway. How about creating one in your own backyard? An outdoor room can get you "out" of the house while keeping the comforts of home close by.

Whether your outdoor space is a screened-in porch, a patio, a balcony or even a rooftop deck, all you need are three basic elements to make it a relaxing oasis: comfortable seating, a soothing ambience and accessories that enhance the surroundings.

You can use any number of decorative styles - country or shabby chic, for instance - to transform your outdoor space. Asian designs are especially popular today, with their clean lines and subtle color schemes. Here are some ideas for creating your own Asian-inspired outdoor retreat.

* For the seating area, you can use benches and chairs made of bamboo, or a large square table and silk pillows. Add a hammock for lounging, too.

* Water is an essential element in most Asian gardens, and the sound of falling water is perfect for creating a peaceful ambience. You can build a small above-ground pond with a shimmering waterfall using the Beckett Waterfall Kit. Because this project is relatively simple and requires no digging, it can be completed in one afternoon.

* A rice-paper lantern is a perfect accessory. Display it next to the water feature to represent the female and male elements of water and fire - what the Japanese call yin and yang.

* Plants in ceramic pots are essential accessories as well. Japanese gardens in particular follow a "less is more" approach and do not emphasize color, so flowers are used sparingly. However, if you prefer more color, use plants that blend well with the Asian theme, such as rhododendrons and hydrangeas. Or, for more greenery, use ferns, bonsai and bamboo plants.

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