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Make the Best Outdoor Living Space for Summer

by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers®

If you’d like to spend plenty of time outside this summer, you’re not alone! Many people have plans to get out and travel, but do you have a good setup to enjoy some fresh air whenever you want at home? Be sure to maximize the potential of your own property—it can provide a mini escape throughout the seasons and makes hosting so much easier. The value of outdoor living spaces has definitely gone up, so whether you want to enjoy yours yourself or you’re planning for resale, here are some design ideas to keep in mind.

Therma-Tru Smooth-Star

Full lites allow these Smooth-Star® patio doors from Therma-Tru® (Style No. S2000) to bring the outdoors in. The French door configuration opens to provide access across the full width of the doorway, perfect for moving people and parties between spaces.

Blur the Lines

Outdoor living space starts with the view from inside! Many new homes designed with outdoor space include plenty of windows and/or patio doors in the shared wall. This makes the interior feel more spacious, and depending on the type and breadth of the patio doors used, you can potentially open them up to merge the great room and the back deck or patio—a convenient arrangement for large parties or just to refresh the air in the house!

Kindred Tula Fire Bowl

The Tuya Fire Bowl from Kindred Outdoors & Surrounds pulls double duty—it has a beautiful fire element to draw attention on one side and ample surface area to serve as a table on the other. They also offer traditional fireplaces, if you prefer!

Have a Focal Point

Inside, the fireplace tends to draw the eye and give focus to a room—that’s why we continue to include them in living spaces despite having modern heating methods. So, if you want to pull your outdoor design together, adding a fire element is a great way to do it! You’ll find plenty of options from traditional fireplaces, to rustic fire pits, to trendy fire bowls. They look different, but they all fill the same niche. And you’ll actually appreciate the heat they offer, allowing you to extend your time outside later into the day and deeper into the seasons.

Kalamazoo K750 Built-in Hybrid Fire Grill

Check out Kalamazoo™ if you want to cook in your outdoor space! They offer all kinds of things like grills, cooktops, pizza ovens, and even vent hoods—all for outdoor use! This is the K750 Built-in Hybrid Fire Grill, which boasts impressive firepower and functionality.

Plan for Cooking

When feeding large numbers, an outdoor kitchen often outperforms the one inside. Grills deliver more firepower than a regular stove, after all, and they’re made to feed a crowd efficiently. Having an outdoor kitchen may seem like a luxury, but they are what you make them—they can have just a basic grill or include other appliances, running water, and plenty of countertop and cabinet space to keep things handy. If you like to host backyard barbecues, you’ll definitely enjoy the convenience.

VELUX Skylights

Look at how much these VELUX® skylights brighten a sunroom! They were selected for the 2018 Idea House from This Old House, and you can see them in action here. Want to learn more about the design? We exclusively offer the blueprints—House Plan 7055.

Provide Light

A well-lit outdoor space is much more inviting than a dark one. Everything from covered patios to screened porches can feel dim depending on their size—the larger the roof, the farther away daylight will be from the center of the space where you’d put most furniture. It’s a great idea to add skylights to reap the benefits of natural light when the sun is up, but don’t forget to prepare for nighttime! Light fixtures for outdoor use run the gamut from path lighting, to sconces, to pendants and chandeliers, so you can create a safe and inviting experience even in the dark.

Clopay Avante

House Plan 7375 features a modern garage door in back, which adds plenty of natural light inside and is perfectly placed for storing outdoor toys and equipment. Avante® aluminum and glass garage doors from Clopay® are often chosen for this role, regardless of house style!

Keep Things Tidy

If your yard has a pool or your kids use it as a playground, chances are it can look a little rough sometimes. Invest in some way to make cleaning up easier—it could be an attached storage room, a shed, or a back-facing garage door that opens up access so you don’t have to carry things around to the front. You’ll also be able to store your furniture in the off season, so you can protect your investment in it longer!

Ply Gem Rising Rail Privacy Fence

Ply Gem® offers a variety of fencing to suit all styles. This Rising Rail Privacy Fence is fantastic if you want to block the view into your property and create a distinct backdrop with a subtle scalloped top edge and your choice of color. Need something else? Ply Gem® also offers porch railing and outdoor structures!

Define the Space

Whether you have kids or pets to contain, or just like clear boundaries, you probably want to enclose your backyard with a fence. Most people prefer to use privacy fencing here, because it is solid and tall enough to prevent passersby from easily looking through or over. Even as a primarily functional product, you do have design options, so choose something that adds style. It’ll tie everything together to make the whole yard feel like an extension of the main living/cooking area, which will beautify the entire picture!

Are you inspired to create your dream outdoor living space? Take a look at our Outdoor Living Collection to see house plans with porches, patios, decks, and more! Our home plan advisors can also help you modify any design to have the features you want, so feel free to reach out if you have any questions, need advice, or want to get the process started.