BRINGING THE GREAT INDOORS OUTSIDE
Getting the most out of every space in your home is becoming increasingly important to you. After all, you're paying for it, so, you might as well use it! From hidden storage to finished basements that offer a second or, in some cases, third living area, homeowners are trying to take advantage of every available inch of their homes. And what better way to enjoy the warmer months than to extend the living area with an outdoor space?
Outdoor rooms can either be simple, with a concrete patio, a grill and a table for dining or more luxurious with a fully-functional outdoor kitchen, state-of-the-art entertainment system and designer furniture. If the budget allows, homeowners can take the concept even further by adding a fireplace or firepit, a full bar, an architectural fountain and landscape lighting.
No matter what type of outdoor living space you have in mind, make sure it is something that fits your lifestyle. Many homeowners find themselves spending more time at home these days instead of planning elaborate vacations away, so creating a comfortable, relaxing atmosphere can provide a private escape in your own backyard. Your outdoor living space can be an extension of your living room to provide an additional space for entertaining or it can be a more private retreat away from the pressures of everyday life. Whatever your desire, and your budget, manufacturers offer endless options for making the most of an outdoor space, but there are several key elements you should consider before you begin.
The first item to decide upon is the purpose of your outdoor space. Are you looking for a private retreat or do you do a lot of entertaining? This will influence your outdoor living design. A cozy chaise and hammock may seem like great ideas for relaxing, however, you'll run into issues if you plan a large party and have no seating for guests. If you're fortunate enough to have a large yard, you can build a hide-away in one area and a larger area for entertaining, perhaps off of your living room or kitchen.
An outdoor kitchen is a nice option, even if you don't plan on doing much entertaining. Dining alfresco is a wonderful way to enjoy spring, summer and even warmer fall weather, and it will help to keep your house from getting too warm when cooking in the summer months. For those homeowners who love to entertain, outdoor kitchens allow every convenience of an indoor kitchen right in the backyard. Aside from traditional grills or barbecues, an outdoor kitchen can also include a cooktop, sink, refrigerator and all of the seating and amenities you would expect to find indoors. For professional cooks, or those that aspire to be, Dacor barbecues offer features like warming drawers, rotisseries and side burners, which allow backyard chefs to operate like a five star restaurant. Some of the more elaborate outdoor kitchens even include concrete pizza ovens and a full wet bar for serving cocktails.
Patio furniture and accessories are utilized in many outdoor spaces, especially those designed for dining outdoors. A log or a rock, are nice, natural additions to an outdoor garden and can be used for seating, however, for longer stays outdoors you'll want something with more back support and a cushion. Manufacturers offer endless options for outdoor furniture, so you'll be able to select something that matches your current indoor living spaces. After all, an outdoor living area is simply an extension of the indoor space, so tying the elements together with similar colors or furniture materials is key to creating a living space that coordinates with the rest of the home.
In order to keep cool, shading in an outdoor living area is a must. To offer protection from the sun and heat, homeowners can opt for umbrellas, shade trees, canopies or awnings. If staying dry is your concern, a shelter is necessary. Shelters can come in the form of a small, solid roof arbor to a large gazebo for entertaining. A shelter is also vital for protecting audio or video equipment, such as a flat screen television or stereo system. Moisture can ruin these devices, so even with a shelter, they're best suited for drier climates.
Other design elements that will help to create the mood of your outdoor living space can be provided through fire. Fire has attracted humans since the dawn of time. It's more than something to keep us warm or cook food; it serves as a beacon for social interaction. Candles or tiki torches create a warm and inviting mood, while a lighted fire is an attractive place for guests to gather. Homeowners have the option of a permanent outdoor fireplace, a portable outdoor hearth, clay or iron chiminea or a fire pit.
Now that you've designed the perfect setting for outdoor relaxation or entertaining, there's only one thing that can ruin it - bugs! Bug control is an important consideration in any outdoor living area. Mosquito netting can be drawn around a canopy or gazebo to offer protection, but there are other less intrusive options that can contribute to the overall ambiance of your space. Nature is a good source for mosquito repellants. Find relief from pesky bugs with citronella grass and pennyroyal. Or plant sweet basil near your seating areas to repel flies, and put tansy in flower beds to keep away ants and flies.
Once you've got the insects under control, why not spend as much time as possible enjoying your outdoor surroundings? With a funcitonal and comfortable outdoor living space, you'll be able to enjoy the breeze and the sun with all of the traditional indoor amenities - and then some!
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