PROJECT PLANNING: Pro Tips & Pitfalls
Pro Tips & Pitfalls
5 PRO TIPS FOR CREATING THE PERFECT OUTDOOR SPACE
We asked some of the outdoor living industry’s most acclaimed experts to share their tips for creating the perfect outdoor space. Universally, the pros agree: Creating the perfect outdoor space means creating a space unique to your tastes and interests — a space you’ll use and enjoy for years to come. Here’s their advice for putting your plans in motion:
1. Start with a high-quality design.
Getting a professional design up front — whether from a landscaping contractor or from an independent designer — will allow you to shop an apples-to-apples quote for your outdoor living space, says Joe Raboine, National Design and Training Specialist at Belgard. “With today’s technology, you can get a rendered animation that is incredibly powerful,” says Raboine. “And a lot of the issues that normally come up are wiped away because everyone understands the process and the product so much better when they’re able to see it in 3D format.”
2. Design for your dream space and phase it in over time.
Start out with an idea of your dream outdoor living space and design for that space, says Michael Beaudry, Executive Vice President of the North American Deck and Railing Association. “Maybe you don’t have $50,000 to build it all up front,” says Beaudry. “But if you think about the stairs to the fire pit you want to build down below or the hot tub you’d like to eventually put in, you can build the frame to support it and then phase those things in over time.”
3. Focus on function and flow.
Pay close attention to the flow of your space as well as its relationship with your home’s interior, says Erik Moden, owner of Outdoor Spaces in Leesburg, Va. “Make sure your layout isn’t too choppy — that you won’t have to scoot around the dining table to get to your fire pit area,” says Moden. “You want direct open lines to get to those spaces, and you also want to direct sight lines from interior windows to draw attention to outdoor living features that make you want to go outside.”
4. Spring for maintenance-free materials.
Spending money on maintenance-free materials will save you money in the long term, says designer Andy Hashman of Mosaic Outdoor Living in Louisville, Colo. “As much as 75 percent of our business comes from something someone else did 7 to 15 years ago that wasn’t made to last,” says Hashman. “So, it doesn’t really pay to go with the lowest bid on everything.”
5. Create a space that reflects who you are and what you love.
Full-scale outdoor living areas are out of budget for a lot of people, acknowledges Eric Davis, spokesperson for the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association. But there are a lot of smaller-scale things you can do to make your outdoor space your own. “If you love music, add some speakers; or, if you love reading, add a reclining chair” says Davis. “It’s really about whatever it takes to get you outside enjoying the extra space as much as you can.”
Who should you hire?
Start with landscape designers and contractors for complex projects involving lighting, kitchens and other outdoor living features. And be sure to check credentials and get referrals. You’re spending a lot of money, so do your homework. And don’t rush into the project.
How much should you spend?
Stick within 15 to 25 percent of your home’s value to create a well-planned, well-installed outdoor living space, and you should receive up to 100 percent return on your investment in an immediate sale.
— Joe Raboine,
National Design and Training Specialist at Belgard
5 PITFALLS TO AVOID
1. Not factoring for the future
Not planning for potential add-ons can negate future uses and lead to costly redesigns down the road.
2. Not considering how your space will complement your home
The wrong deck or patio can ruin your home’s appearance and reduce resale value.
3. Not accounting for the flow of the room
Leaving too little space for people to walk through comfortably can cramp your space and affect your ability to entertain.
4. Insufficient lighting, counter space and seating
If you plan to use your outdoor living space to cook, entertain and pass the evening hours, you’ll most regret skimping in these areas.
5. Hiring the wrong professional
An unqualified professional can botch the job and significantly increase the overall cost of your project.