Original post 5/7/2013 | Updated 05/16/2017
In our climate, summers are great! If you want to take full advantage of warm days, why not vacation at home by creating an outdoor living space for all the activities you enjoy? Add a patio for relaxing, a pool to cool down on a hot day or an outdoor kitchen for entertaining. An outdoor fireplace and hot tub can be a perfect setting for a romantic evening or a place where the family can roast marshmallows and warm up the kids after a swim. A screened porch is an ideal spot to read a book or enjoy a summer’s eve with family and friends.
A sunroom is the brightest spot in a home where you can take full advantage of the sun’s warmth well beyond summer. A wall of windows or patio doors brings the outside into a home. A three-season room relies on solar energy for heat and screens to cool down the space. If insulation and thermal paned windows and doors are added the room can be used year-round.
Sunroom addition in White Oak
2. Outdoor Rooms
Outdoor rooms are multi-functional living spaces that are an extension of a home. The space is often unified with a garden, pool or pond. An outdoor room usually has defined areas for outdoor cooking and dining. It is furnished with patio furniture, may be sheltered or include a firepit.
New deck products can last decades and add beauty and value to a home. If you’re planning to build a deck consider easy maintenance composite decking and take time to look at options for balusters and rails such as iron spindles or glass panels that will maximize the view. In your design, you may want to consider built-in seating and storage by using hinged boxed seats on the deck or enclosed storage below.
4. Screened Porches
Porches are the perennial gathering place during summer days to cool down, read or enjoy a cold drink. A screened porch provides the additional benefit of protection from flying insects. Traditionally, a porch provided a space to “sit back and relax”. Today homeowners are finding new uses for porches by adding an area for dining, a bar or even a kitchen.
In old movies hospitality was often associated with verandas when a host would beckon guests by saying “Come, let’s sit on the veranda”, direct them to a rocking chair and offer a mint julep. A veranda is still a great place for outdoor entertaining but now the space is really rocking with modern amenities such as a fully-equipped outdoor kitchen, a bar, fireplace and classic architectural elements.
6. Gazebos and Shelters
A gazebo is a roofed structure used for outdoor entertaining. A gazebo roof has a geometric shape such as a hexagon, octagon, square or rectangle and the primary architectural element. Gazebos can be free-standing or attached to a house but always add beauty and charm to any home and garden. The interior can be equipped with bench seating or a table for outdoor dining. A ceiling fan or chandelier can be installed in the peak of the roof.
7. Cabanas and Pool Houses
A cabana is a shelter built on a beach or near a swimming pool. Once used for shade or changing after a swim, a cabana can also be an ideal place for a shower, kitchenette or bar. Add an overhang and you will have shelter from the sun’s rays. A pool house is a ‘must have’ for storage of supplies.
8. Outdoor Hardscape
Patios, walls, walks, stairs and surrounds for firepits, pools and hot tubs are essential elements in the design of outdoor spaces. There are many creative uses for stone, lighting and landscaping in outdoor design, even creating a patio that leads to a putting green.