At this time of year, no matter how much you love your home’s interior, you’re probably feeling a bit of cabin fever and perhaps dreaming of better days ahead when you can enjoy being outdoors. But is your home ready for warm weather activities or is it in need of some improvement? Your outdoor living space can be as simple as a small deck or patio or can be a multi-level, multi-function space perfect for relaxing, reading, dining, or a special event for friends and family with elegant lighting, a screened porch, outdoor kitchen, spa, fire pit and more.
Add Space for Less
Assuming your exterior upgrades are consistent with the level of design and features of your home, an outdoor living area can be less expensive per square foot than indoor space. It also adds a whole new dimension to your at-home experience.
Options and Ideas for Outdoor Living Spaces
We could go on forever about all of the options you have for creating just the right outdoor living space for your home and lifestyle, but here are some of the highlights:
Decks: They can be simple – one level and rectangular – or they can be multi-level with custom shapes. They can be with or without a roof or awning, with or without screening and made of one of several composite or engineered building materials that offer longer life and require little to no maintenance.
Porches: Like decks, porches can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors while staying at home. With porches you have the option of putting them on any side of your home, front, sides and back.
Patios: Being at ground level, patios are perfect for integrating your home with your landscaping, which can offer shade, privacy, fragrance and beauty to your time outdoors. There are a tremendous number of building material choices – man-made and natural – for patios. You may like the variety, color predictability and cost that man-made products like brick, pavers, and poured surfaces offer or you may prefer the warmth and blending of colors and textures of natural stone.
Lighting: What lets you really expand the hours of enjoyment your outdoor living space affords is lighting. But it can do much more than keep you from tripping over the cat in the dark. Exterior illumination can be done in a creative way, as dim or bright as you want, that sets a mood and adds drama to your home. It pays to consider the lighting design as carefully as you consider the design of your deck or patio.
Cooking: If you are not doing at least some cooking outside, you are really missing out! Your options range from the purist’s favorite charcoal grill to a gourmet cook’s dream outdoor kitchen with a gourmet gas grill, sink, refrigerator, icemaker, counter space for food prep and serving, storage cabinets, a fireplace or fire pit, and more.
Shade: Whether you love to bask in the sun or would just prefer to sit in the shade, you have options…lots of them! At one end of the spectrum, you might opt for just a freestanding umbrella to provide spot shade, or you may like the flexibility of a retractable awning or sunshade. For a more permanent solution, you may wish to have part of the space under a roof, pergola or gazebo (or even screened in).
Accessibility/Universal Design: When designing an outdoor living space, you should consider building in some universal design features for maximum accessibility for all. Always provide secure hand rails for stairs and consider low-rise steps. Low-threshold doorways and levers instead of doorknobs are excellent options.
You will get years and years of enjoyment from your investment in your outdoor living space if you take the time to plan it out, design it right and build it for low maintenance and long life.