Thursday, April 1, 2010

Creating an Outdoor Room at your House

Outdoor rooms are a big trend in design right now. An outdoor room can expand the living space of your home for many months of the year. An outdoor room is also more affordable than an enclosed addition.

Planning an outdoor room requires consideration of a number of design issues. The way you chose to use your outdoor room determines its size and orientation.

• Do you want to cook outside? On charcoal or gas? Built in or movable? Wet or dry sink? Refrigerator? Outdoor kitchens can be simple and complex.

• What about eating outside? How many people would you like to have sit down at a table?

• Should the outdoor living space incorporate a “living room” with space for couches, comfortable chairs and coffee tables?

• How do you feel about sun and shade? Options to limit sun include full roofs, open pergola style patio covers, awnings, and trees.

The second part of outdoor room design involves design detail. Carefully considered steps to navigate the inevitable changes in level from the door to the outdoor space and beyond make an enormous impact on the success of an outdoor room. Low seating walls create enclosure while preserving a sense of openness; taller screening walls and plantings can obscure less desirable views. Well placed special amenities like fountains and fire features create special gathering spaces in the outdoor living space.

Materials selection determines the character of the space. Matching the character of the materials outside the house is fairly typical, but complete contrast can work well too. Brick and stone are rustic and historical in character. Stained concrete, concrete pavers and metal finishes create a more contemporary feel.

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