Creating an Outdoor Room

With the beautiful summer weather comes a lot of time spent outdoors. To expand the use of your backyard, transform your current outdoor area into a fully functional and beautiful outdoor room. Outdoor kitchens, fire pits and fireplaces are all great starting points for creating a fresh air living and entertaining space, and when planning and designing you can incorporate different elements to make your outdoor room as large and functional as you would like. Outdoor kitchens and outdoor living spaces have recently increased in popularity among homeowners. Seen before as a luxury, these are much more common, with budget friendly choices for any homeowner. This new phenomenon has even impacted family decisions about how to invest money in leisure activities. The “staycation” means that families are choosing to put their money toward making their own homes more enjoyable, instead of taking a vacation.

Barbecue in style this summer when you turn part of your backyard into an outdoor kitchen—a fun, creative way to really enjoy your yard. Outdoor kitchens can be simple with just a grill and counter space for food prep. Alternatively, they can be lavish—fully equipped with sinks, refrigerators, cabinets, bars, wine coolers and ice-makers. The possibilities are endless and the prices on many of these amenities are beginning to decrease as this trend becomes more popular.

imageThe grill is the first thing most homeowners think of when they decide to expand outdoors. Consider going beyond the traditional grill by incorporating one with a rotisserie or a brick pizza oven. Charles H. Gamarekian, Chairman/CEO of Cambridge Pavers Inc., has boasted that his company’s product lines include round and square fire pits and even “an outdoor pizza oven that cooks pizza pies, bakes bread and roasts veggies with an old world, brick oven flavor derived from an authentic wood-fired oven.” To maximize your outdoor kitchen, add fun kitchen amenities that you don’t have in your interior kitchen.

Many outdoor designs include pergolas, gazebos or pavilions, each of which adds a fun design element while providing shaded areas that can be excellent for outdoor seating. As a less expensive seating alternative, position your furniture under an oversized umbrella or around existing trees. Another option is to create the feel of an outdoor living room by anchoring your seating with a fire pit or outdoor fireplace. Fire pits and outdoor fireplaces are perfect during the fall months to give you the extra warmth that’s needed to extend your outdoor living space past the summer months. Typically outdoor fireplaces and fire pits are permanent and can be built right into your patio by a mason, but portable versions are available and can be a cost-effective yet safe way to enjoy the relaxing atmosphere of a crackling fire on a breezy or chilly evening.

Lighting is an important element when enhancing your outdoor space. Good lighting will allow you to safely enjoy your outdoor room through the evening. Whether you choose a full illumination design package or simply add lights around pathways and seating areas to enhance safety and conversation, lighting will keep your backyard beautiful at night.

If a fully designed outdoor room doesn’t fit into your backyard’s space or your budget, pick and choose features that are the perfect fit for your backyard. Approach outdoor design as you would an indoor room—phase in the improvements, starting with the more permanent structures and pieces to form a plan that you can build on over time. Slow down your summer and give yourself more time to spend with your friends and family outside in your own outdoor living space (it’s not a bad home improvement investment either).