HomeownerEducational: N-Z

Outdoor Kitchens & Living Spaces

Benefits of an Outdoor Living Space

In addition to being fantastic locations for hosting dinners, parties, and other get-togethers, outdoor living spaces offer other significant benefits. They make a yard more functional, reduce water needs, and increase home values.

Outdoor Features

Outdoor structures. The core of an outdoor living space is often a deck, patio, or arbor. Such structures are most often made of wood, composite material, stone, or pavers.

Homeowners should ask themselves how their new outdoor space will be used. If larger gatherings are in store, a brick patio or roomy, ground-level platform deck would be appropriate. On the other hand, if privacy is a priority, a contractor could easily incorporate a fence into the structure.

Outdoor kitchens and fireplaces. A recent trend is to equip an outdoor living space with some of the amenities of an indoor kitchen. Gas, propane, and charcoal grills, of course, are also popular options. Homeowners who want to remain cozy on cool autumn evenings can also install an outdoor fireplace.

Landscape lighting. Most homes’ exteriors already have a few strategically placed flood lights, but these fixtures are strictly utilitarian. There are many options that are less harsh and less prone to causing impromptu insect flash mobs.

In addition to creating atmosphere, landscape lighting is also functional, casting more than enough light to walk by or deter nighttime intruders.

Water features. Ponds and fountains can have a dramatic impact on an outdoor living space. Water features create an ambiance of tranquility and are often easier to build than many homeowners would think; the most basic construction consists of a lined excavation filled with water, ringed by attractive stones and plants.

Things to Consider

Design/build firms. The best design/build firms can be counted upon to put forward recommendations that will make your vision for your outdoor space feasible. They’ll be able to provide architectural suggestions as well as speak to practical details, such as drainage and the placement of retaining walls. Companies that design and install outdoor living spaces often offer a range of other landscaping services, including installation and maintenance of many varieties of trees, shrubs, and ornamental plants.

Climate. Outdoor living spaces are more common in—but not exclusive to—areas that enjoy warmer weather. In colder regions, contractors may employ a different approach when designing outdoor living spaces (a 20-foot trek to your hot tub is a very different proposition when there is a foot of snow on the ground). In addition to spatial considerations, there is likely to be more emphasis on features like fire pits or fireplaces.