by Rachel Lyon, Editorial Director for The House Designers
Outdoor living is all about getting out of the house without leaving its comforts, so design your deck, porch, or patio in a way that’ll entice you to relax and entertain in the fresh air. Maybe you simply want to create a backyard getaway, or perhaps you want to go all out and build an entire kitchen and dining room so you can enjoy good weather to the fullest. No matter how much or how little you have to work with, here are some ideas to get you started!
It goes without saying that any furniture used outside should be designed to withstand sun, rain, and a range of temperatures so it won’t deteriorate, and for many years, that meant your best choices for anything to sit on were wood, metal, or resin. We sacrifice comfort for resilience, and that’s counterproductive at the end of the day. You want to want to spend time in your outdoor space, otherwise taking the time to create it isn’t a good investment on your part.
New synthetics make it possible to design a beautiful and relaxing living room out in the open. From sturdy chairs and couches with water-repellent cushions you can actually sink into to finely crafted dining sets made from extremely hard-wearing wood species, there are more options than ever before and you can finally put together a unique design that does your home justice. Outdoor furniture is produced with the elements in mind, but you can keep it in pristine condition by covering it when not in use and moving it into the garage during the off-season, if you live in an area with extreme winters.
Covered porches are great, because they help keep you out of the sun while still letting you feel the breeze, but as outdoor living moves farther into the yard and away from the house, harsh light becomes a problem. Between the intense heat and the risk of sunburn, it can be tempting to stay inside even on a gorgeous day. So, get some kind of canopy to protect you from direct sun and allow you to enjoy the ambient conditions.
Look for a good umbrella with a canopy that you can tilt as needed. Ones that are incorporated into a table are popular, but there are plenty of side and wall mount models that provide just what you need without placing a pole directly into your line of sight. Look for a cantilever umbrella that attaches to a pole from the top—you’ll love the cleaner, more open view and the large swath of shade you get from it, and you can park the pole behind seating or to one side of a table so it’s out of your way.
A Fiery Focal Point
Fireplaces are a major selling point in today’s housing market. Even though they are considered obsolete for heating purposes, people love the look of them and their attention-grabbing nature. Give your outdoor living area its own hearth to gather around and you’ll notice the whole atmosphere shift. And outside, it’s not just something nice to look at—it can help keep you warm long after the sun sets! Exterior fireplaces come in every style and can burn gas or wood, or if you prefer the look and heat of open flames, you can build your own fire pit or install a firebowl. Perfect for a relaxing night at home or for keeping a party going after dark, you’ll find plenty of time to put one of these to good use!
A Functional Kitchen
If you really want to go the whole nine yards and make cooking outdoors as convenient as possible, turn your patio into a practical kitchen that has everything you need. The grill is the main show for cookouts, but wouldn’t it be nice to keep refrigerated products cool, wash your hands, and store all your tools right where you’re working? It’s not just serious summer barbecue hosts behind the rise in popularity of outdoor kitchens—they’re appealing to the average homeowner, too, because grilling is quick and doesn’t require adding extra oils to food. Better yet, you can keep the interior of your home smelling fresh by choosing to cook odiferous items outside! That’s just another benefit of expanding your living areas beyond the walls of your house.
Finish with Accessories
If your outdoor living space doesn’t feel complete or isn’t as convenient as it should be, you’re probably missing something. Maybe it’s as simple as a small side table to put next to your favorite seat to hold your drinks, there’s some aesthetic deficiency that could be helped with an outdoor rug or strategically placed planters, or you need an insect trap to prevent mosquitoes from causing you to avoid your property. Whatever it is, if it’ll make living outdoors more pleasant, it’s hard to go wrong.
Be sure to check out our Outdoor Living House Plan Collection to see homes that include all kinds of exterior living areas. You’ll find everything from simple patios to full outdoor kitchens designed into plans spanning all sizes and styles, and it’s a great place to start looking if you intend to make the most of your home and your lot!