May 18 2011
While you might have found the perfect house plan and built your dream home, you may not be quite sure of how to make use of your backyard. One thing is certain, if you love being outside, you’ll want an outdoor room. Below is a list of tips from The House Plan Shop to help you come up with an outdoor living space that is right for you.
1. Divide your space – If you have a large backyard or even a small one, it is important to divide your space. Determine where you want your outdoor room, what portion of the yard will be for the kids to play and the dog to roam, and where do you plan to have a vegetable or flower garden. (Keep in mind your outdoor room does not necessarily have to be the back porch, deck or patio.) Use archways, hedges, fences, gates and shrubbery to define each of the necessary spaces within your backyard.
2. Consider an outdoor room with a view – Be creative. Your outdoor room does not need to be connected to the home or situated next to the back wall. Try positioning your outdoor room away from the house by building an open-air gazebo or constructing a pergola on a concrete slab. If it is next to the house, orient the living space to the view whether it is the deck looking over the lake or pool or a patio with a view of the golf course.
3. Dress up your space – Trim your outdoor room with lush plantings such as hostas, evergreens and colorful perennials. Add hanging ferns and container plantings of greenery and flowers to your porch, deck, patio and lanai for more visual appeal. Container plantings are easy to water and move making it easy to spread color throughout your outdoor room.
4. Add furniture and seating – Make your outdoor room comfortable and inviting by incorporating weatherproof outdoor furnishings and accessories. Anchor the space with an outdoor area rug. Add weatherproof wicker furniture outfitted with thick cushions covered with outdoor fabrics crated to withstand the extremes of the elements including mildew, fading, stains and rot. Choose water-repellent fabric that can sustain freezing conditions.
5. Consider lighting, privacy and noise – Add privacy to your room and block the view of neighbors’ wandering eyes by adding decorative, folding metal screens. Control sunlight and privacy with bamboo blinds hung from your covered porch, patio or gazebo. These versatile blinds can be raised or lowered to block sun and views. They also help control the noise of your outdoor gatherings as not to disturb the neighbors. Consider installing a soothing water fountain to screen the noise from the street and busy subdivisions. An added bonus: water fountains contribute to a soothing and relaxing atmosphere to your outdoor room.
6. Build for entertaining – If you plan to entertain in your outdoor room, make sure it is built and furnished for entertaining. Add an outdoor kitchen and bar. This can include everything from a grill or built-in stovetop to a sink, mini-fridge and wine rack. A fully functional kitchen helps keep everyone and everything outside while you are entertaining. There is no need to run in and out of the house as you prepare a meal. With an outdoor cooking station, you can visit with guests, enjoy pleasant weather and prepare a hassle free meal. Consider adding counter with bar stools for snacking and conversation. Create an outdoor dining room beneath your covered porch with a patio table and chairs. Hang a chandelier or lighted ceiling fan above to anchor the space. If you like dining alfresco, make sure you are ready to do so with a group. Include versatile furniture such as benches that can be covered with a cushion and used for extra seating or remove the cushion and use the bench for an extra table when company arrives.
7. Other elements – Don’t forget to incorporate the things you love. If you’ve always wanted a hot tub, choose a space for it. If your family enjoys sitting by the fire, add an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, perfect for gathering and conversation on a crisp fall evening. If you want a backyard pool, create a sidewalk or pathway connecting your outdoor living area to the pool.
If you’re planning to create an outdoor room, carefully consider these ideas and formulate the best plan that will accommodate your family’s needs and wishes.