What you need to make your outdoor area feel like a living room
Chicago Daily Herald
Comfortable seating is vital if you are trying to create a luxurious outdoor space.
Courtesy of CTW Features
By Erik J. Martin
If you want to enjoy the great outdoors this summer, you don't need to travel beyond your own backyard. Simply bring all the comforts of the indoors to your patio, deck or other outdoor area via furniture, appliances and other amenities designed for alfresco enjoyment.
Then, kick back and enjoy the sunshine or moonlight in style.
"No matter where you live in the country, spending time outside is a valued aspect of our lives. And it's becoming increasingly more important to have a nice outdoor living space to enjoy the weather whenever possible," says Marisa Salas of Showhomes Coral Gables in Coral Gables, Florida. "Having an outdoor living area is a great way to make your home feel bigger without having to do major construction, and it can significantly add to your home's resale value if you're looking to sell."
Plus, spending time outside has many health and mood-enhancing benefits stemming from increased relaxation, activity, fresh air, sunshine and bonding time spent with family and friends, notes Catherine Clemens, licensed landscape architect and principal with Clemens & Associates Inc. in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Wicker furniture with cushions and sun-resistant fabrics are popular. -
"We believe this outdoor living trend is becoming more popular due to the rebound in the economic and housing markets," Clemens says. "It can also be attributed to advancements in the durability and style of outdoor-rated materials and exposure from social media channels like Instagram and Pinterest."
The ideal spot to stage an outdoor living area is just past the back door, many experts agree.
"Many people like to utilize areas that are close to the home so that food and beverages don't have to travel far from the kitchen," says Benjamin Paciello, general manager of BoConcept Madison Avenue in New York City.
"Typically, it's best placed right off the house for convenience and fluidity between indoor and outdoor living spaces," says Clemens. "However, sometimes a getaway destination, pavilion or enclosure hideaway positioned further from the house for privacy can provide a welcome retreat. This concept is well-suited for relaxation areas like a hot tub or hammock area."
Paciello's priorities for an outdoor living area are simple.
"Comfortable seating is vital. Second is a good dining area. Third is a shade element to shield you from the sun," he says. "Everything after that is an added bonus -- like a grill, fire pit, portable lighting and outdoor sound system."
Added touches such as a fireplace, fire pit or fire table can enhance the outdoor experience. -
Joe Raboine, Atlanta-based design and training specialist with Belgard, says several notable trends are underfoot in outdoor living design. One is creating a well-appointed outdoor kitchen equipped with a grill, side burners, fridge and bar.
"In addition, wicker, wood and metal-based furniture with deep seating and very thick and sun-resistant fabrics are popular. People are also installing all types of hanging beds and swings and even creating outdoor enclosed showers," says Raboine.Clemens has observed a gravitation toward plush conversational furniture sets, such as sectional sofas and club chairs.
"Ample outdoor pillows, rugs and throws are being used to create a living room-like space for entertaining or relaxing, too," adds Clemens.
Wood or natural gas-fueled fire pits remain hot, along with fire tables and fire bowls.
An overhead fan can create a breeze and also helps to keep flying insects away. -
"Quality outdoor lighting is also in demand, in the form of decorative string lights, uplighting around nearby landscaping and hanging lanterns with LED-style flameless lights," says Rhianna Miller, outdoor design expert for Lakewood, New Jersey-headquartered RubberMulch. "Stamped or stained concrete patios are on the rise as well, which give the look of more expensive stones and add drama to the design."
Added touches that can enhance the outdoor experience include an outdoor fan to promote airflow and discourage insects, a water element like a small, recirculating fountain, and an infrared heater for when the weather gets chilly.
Clemens recommends budgeting at least $5,000 for a snazzy outdoor living space.
"Basic elements can be completed by a savvy do-it-yourselfer," she says, "but I recommend hiring a professional designer to create a plan and maximize the usage of your space and resources."
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