If you’ve ever watched those home and garden shows, you may be dreaming of your own backyard makeover. With a palette of dirt, the outdoor designer transforms backyards into cozy relaxation areas, resort-like pool areas or elaborate outdoor kitchens. Outdoor space design techniques are the same as those used when designing interior living spaces, with the emphasis on function, comfort and style. So, toss out the portable barbecue and plastic lawn furniture, and bring those backyard transformation dreams to life.
Outdoor Living Area #1: Outdoor Kitchens
Outdoor kitchens are an increasingly popular trend. While barbecuing is still the primary outdoor cooking technique, the appliances of an outdoor kitchen – which can often include a stove, a barbecue, and even an oven – can rival those of the indoor kitchen.
Along with cooking appliances, the outdoor kitchen may include a storage room, preparation areas and sinks. Some outdoor kitchens also include small refrigerators so the cook doesn’t need to head indoors to retrieve ingredients.
Outdoor Living Area #2: Patios and Outdoor Dining Spaces
Today’s outdoor dining areas are far removed from the old picnic tables families used to congregate around. Matching chairs and tables are the norm, with removable cushions and tabletops made of durable glass or tile. The entire outdoor dining or patio area may be covered with a weatherproof gazebo, which can be hung with curtains and screens.
Patio furniture is still found in backyards across America, but tends to be more elaborate than the formed plastic furniture of yore. Elaborate hammocks and “gravity” chairs are quite popular.
At night, outdoor living areas can be transformed with an almost endless variety of lighting. Outdoor fireplaces and chimneys bring the cheery warmth of fire to the backyard while keeping the flames safely enclosed. Fire pits can be gas-powered, and come in a wide variety of styles to complement patio furniture.
Outdoor Living Area #3: Waterfalls, Fountains and Pools
The trend towards outdoor living often continues into the garden, which may be elaborately designed for relaxation and privacy. Fountains, waterfalls and other water features offer a refreshing aspect to the backyard retreat. Self-contained waterfalls and water gardens make it easy to add the soothing sounds of water to your garden without investing time, maintenance and money into large ponds or waterfalls.
In certain climates, the addition of a pool can enhance outdoor living spaces and even increase property value if the property is located in a neighborhood where pools are common. There are maintenance costs involved in owning a pool, so be sure to find out what the ongoing expenses would be like before adding a pool to your outdoor living area.
Outdoor Living Area #4: Landscaping
Some elements of gardens have always lent themselves to outdoor living. Large shade trees can be a focal point in a garden, providing cool shade during the summer and interesting silhouettes during the winter months. A carefully positioned shade tree also helps cool the home’s interior during the summer, saving you money on your power bills. The experts at Colorado State University claim that shade trees planted on the east side of the house prevent morning heat, and, when planted on the west and southwest side of the house, they prevent heat buildup from afternoon sun.
While gardens and yards have always had an important role in American homes, more folks today see them as much more than play areas for the kids and dogs. Outdoor living spaces and patios are becoming extensions of the house – and are often furnished as if they were another room. What better way to lure you into relaxing while you’re at home?