By Norb Rug
Now that spring is here, it’s time to think about improving your outdoor living spaces.
The appeal of outdoor living spaces like decks and patios has been growing for several years. A study in 2014 by the home design and remodeling website Houzz said that a large number of homeowners were updating their yards for outdoor entertaining. Likewise, nearly 60 percent of architectural companies that were surveyed by the American Institute of Architects in 2016 said that outdoor living spaces were all the rage in the houses they built. Outdoor living spaces can also be a sound investment for homeowners that are looking to increase the resale value of their homes. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 “Cost vs. Value” report, outside living areas generated a return of between 55 and 71 percent of their initial cost at resale.
When they are planning an outdoor living space, homeowners with larger yards have much more space to work with. But, to make the most advantageous use of the space available while at the same time getting the maximum return on their investments as possible, homeowners should create spaces that offer broad attraction but are not too personal. The following are some common outdoor living space upgrades that homeowners may want to think about.
An outdoor kitchen will allow homeowners to do more than just grill the traditional backyard barbecued food. A standalone, propane fired grill on the deck might do the job done, but a built in, stainless steel, gas stove complete with multiple burners and a surrounding stone countertop makes for a much better designed outdoor space for cooking.
Indoor entertainment areas, like a finished basement frequently have a bar, so it is reasonable that homeowners may want to add a bar area to make and serve alcoholic beverages to their guests. Homeowners with room in their budget may want to have a wet bar installed where they are able to make mixers, rinse glasses and other things they need to do to make drinks for their guests. A refrigerated beer tap will add to an outside bar’s functionality.
An outdoor table and seating area are nice to have so you and your guests can eat, drink and maybe play a few games of cards[NR1] . Shade should be a consideration when designing an outdoor living space. If you don’t have enough trees to provide shade during the day you should consider having a roof built, an awning installed or maybe a large umbrella over your seating area. In our back yard we have a glass top table that seats six with an umbrella. It is perfect for feeding the grandchildren, letting them do crafts and especially play with Play-dough.
Features that can help keep homeowners and their guests stay warm after the sun sets include outdoor fireplaces, propane heaters and fire pits. A 2016 survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects found that fire pits and fireplaces were the most popular outdoor design feature in 2016. Such elements can provide a focal point in the outdoor living space while also helping to extend the outdoor living season into autumn and even early winter and open your back yard earlier in spring. You could also add outdoor lighting. We have a LED light that clamps to our umbrella pole that enables us to stay out after dark. We also have solar powered accent lighting on our porch.
Of course, a properly landscaped area can enhance the outdoor experience. The installation of plants and greenery can not only heighten the feeling of relaxation but can hide any ugliness like a cinder block wall. Calming landscaping can also help you de-stress from the pressures of the day. One nice addition to your living space could be a water feature like a waterfall or a Koi pond.