As warm weather arrives our thoughts turn to the great outdoors. We can say goodbye to cabin fever and spend some time in the fresh air. With the right furniture, landscaping and a few other elements, we can take advantage of yard space and extend our homes to take advantage of nature.
You don't have to settle for a simple patio or deck. Today, you can build an outdoor living room or kitchen. You have dozens of choices for flooring, lighting, shade, appliances and furniture. Decorations ranging from gardens to ponds and fountains that can provide atmosphere. And a well-designed outdoor living area can boost the resale value of your home, too.
Before you plan out your outdoor space, think about your home. Does your home have a particular architectural style or color scheme? You may want to use the same or complementary style in your new outdoor living space to maintain that style. This will make your outdoor area feel like a true extension of your home.
The odds are good that you'll find outdoor materials that complement your interior design. You may wish to stick to understated colors -- remember that you can use plants and other accessories to add more vibrant colors to your design and it's easy to rearrange them.
Lay of the Land
Just as important as your home's style is the layout of your yard. Measure your space and take into consideration elements like steep hills, gentle slopes, and any trees or other large plants. You'll want to take all that into account before you begin to build out your outdoor living area.
Will you be entertaining mainly in the evening? Make sure you note where the sun will be at that time of day before designing the area. You won't want your guests blinded by the light. Taking note of these items early will help you avoid problems in the future.
Bringing Out the Heat
We're way beyond simple charcoal barbecue grills now. Today, you can buy and install everything from a simple, portable fire pit to a permanent fireplace complete with hearth. If outdoor cooking is your passion, consider a barbecue pit, outdoor pizza oven or even a fully-fledged outdoor gas stove. An outdoor kitchen can become a comfortable place for friends and family to gather.
In addition to the cooking spaces, you can look into outdoor counters. Granite is a popular choice. This will give you the space you need to prepare food without having to make constant runs back inside during meals.
Lighting and plants can lend your space an almost magical atmosphere. Explore different lighting options. Placing lights in trees or along pathways can give your space an enchanting appearance. Plants can help accentuate your space and give it color. And it's easy to swap out one plant for another if the style isn't quite right for you.
Building the perfect outdoor space can take time and a lot of hard work. But in the end, the result may increase the value of your home and bring you hours of outdoor enjoyment with friends and family.
- Deck, Kelly. "Extend your living space outdoors." Vancouver Sun. (April 9, 2010) http://www.househunting.ca/outdoorliving/story.html?id=93508635-6d51-4e6e-bc2d-31b409a8c0c2
- Gaylord Herald Times. "Extend your home's living space outdoors." March 30, 2010. (April 8, 2010) http://www.gaylordheraldtimes.com/articles/2010/03/30/human_interest/doc4bb212052cd52517180815.txt
- Landscape Design Advisor. (April 9, 2010) http://www.landscape-design-advisor.com/backyard-landscape-design.html
- Snyder, Amy. "Outdoor living spaces extend your livable space and delight the senses." Mygarden.net. 2007. (April 8, 2010) http://home-improvement.mygarden.net.au/home-garden/outdoor-living-spaces-extend-your-livable-space-and-delight-the-senses/8905/1