A well-designed outdoor space can be a valuable addition to any home. With careful design consideration, the living space can be extended to allow indoor activities to take place outdoors during the spring, summer and fall. During winter, an outdoor space can serve as an attractive view and offer promises of fun and casual living for the warmer months ahead.
Before electrical fans and air conditioning, families spent many hours socializing on porches and in yards during warm-weather months. Now people are again discovering the joys of outdoor living. Exterior living space are natural extensions to indoor social areas. For the efficient use, these areas should be located next to and with easy access to living rooms, family rooms and/or dinning rooms.
Consider your many alternatives when planning outdoor living. Take full advantage of the site while accommodating family needs. First evaluate the types of activities you desire, such as outdoor dinning, cooking, entertaining , sunning, hobbies and children’s games. What is necessary for each specific activity?
Consider the space needed, sun and shade requirements, location in relation to other indoor and outdoor areas.
Environmental conditions play and important part in determining the location and design treatment. Note how much shade or sun an outdoor area receives over a period of time and the location of this pattern at varying times of the year and day.
The location of indoor rooms plays a major role locating an outside living area. This outdoor room should have easy access to an indoor living area and should ideally be considered a physical extension of the indoor room. If there is no direct access from an indoor living room, consider converting a window into a door. The addition of sliding glass provides both visual and physical access to the outdoors.
Outdoor rooms have the same basic elements as indoor spaces: walls, ceilings and floors. Although few people would consider an indoor living room successful if it contained only a floor and an occasional chair, design development in an outdoor space is often that limited. Walls and ceilings serve to create privacy, define space, control sun, shade and wind, frame views and give human scale to outdoor spaces.
Pergolas, fences and walls are all architectural elements that can define walls and ceilings. A combination of plant and natural materials can define the outdoor spaces as well provide a link and transition between the outdoor and indoor living areas.
The simplest and less expensive option is a patio that is built on-grade. Floors can be brick, stone or poured concrete and landscaping features can include planting beds and retaining walls. Shapes and sized are limited only by your imagination and space available. A patio can be designed into the overall landscaping and gardening plan to enhance the backyard beauty.
Live with a space for a while before deciding what you will do. Although the obvious purpose of gardens and landscaping is aesthetic, a yard also serves as an outdoor living room. It must function for you.
“Today the outdoor living market has expanded to encompass far more than just gardening, though gardening remains an important aspect of outdoor living. Outdoor living is a lifestyle, not just a hobby…” Pam Danziger