It’s summertime and the living is easy — especially if you can step out of a patio door and escape to a beautiful outdoor living space. Even if you have a modest remodeling budget to work with, it’s easy to transform a simple backyard, patio or deck into an elegant, affordable, low-maintenance outdoor living space.
As Americans increasingly opt for eating at home instead of dining at restaurants, they are rediscovering the joys of cooking and entertaining outdoors. In fact, outdoor living continues to grow in popularity even as homeowners get back to basics in a cool economy. According to an American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) survey, 94.4 percent of architects rated outdoor living spaces like kitchens or entertaining areas as very popular.
According to the survey, the most highly-ranked outdoor entertainment features eschewed more expensive, elaborate items like outdoor refrigerators and sinks in favor of the essentials such as seating and dining areas (95.6 percent); grills (94.4 percent); cheap fire pits and fireplaces (94 percent), and items that make outdoor living easier such as low-maintenance landscapes (94 percent) and weatherized outdoor furniture (77 percent).
You can easily update your backyard into an outdoor living space without having to make a significant investment in remodeling. Here are some ideas to create an ideal outdoor room:
Know your home’s style. It’s important to have an understanding of your home’s architectural style to ensure that your outdoor living space complements your indoor space. Whatever the theme you carry outdoors, it should reflect your home’s style. If you live in an old-world Victorian style home, for example, home retailers offer weather-resistant chairs and tables that evoke old— fashioned wicker furniture, allowing you to create the look you want without the weather worries.
Determine the use of your space. Once you know the general architectural style of your home, and by extension, your outdoor living space, it’s time to think of the activities you want to enjoy. If you like to entertain, consider installing a built-in bench for added seating, or purchase a couple of wooden benches to create a conversation nook. If you prefer to lounge and read, include a hammock or chaise lounges with pillows covered in durable outdoor fabrics.
Set the stage with the right door. The entry to your outdoor living space creates the impression of what’s to follow on the other side. And, since summer barbecues, pool parties and picnics funnel traffic through your home’s patio door, make it a pleasant experience — avoid irritating traffic jams, frayed screens and cloudy glass by installing doors that can stand up to the high traffic and look good over time.
For a blend of beauty and durability, consider a patio door made of fiberglass. It won’t ding, dent or rust like a steel door, and won’t swell, rot, crack or warp like a wood door. A variety of styles are available to match most any home design. For example, to complement the growing trend of bungalow, arts and crafts and mission style architectural elements, Therma-Tru® recently introduced several craftsman style full-lite patio doors.
Lighten up. Another inexpensive way to give your backyard the feel of an actual room is to install accent lighting. String lights in festive colors and shapes, or add drama by lighting a pathway to a colorful garden, pool or pond. Install a couple of potted trees and light them at ground level or add strings of lights in the branches for nighttime atmosphere.
Make family time fun. In many homes, an outdoor room or patio is also a playground area equipped with toys, swings, basketball hoops and wading pools. Protect bikes and toys when not in use by incorporating a clean, dry storage area for these items. Durable indoor/outdoor carpeting can also help protect children from scrapes and bruises.
Save energy costs, too. When shopping for a patio door, look for a door made with Low-E glass, which is more energy efficient than standard clear glass. It helps prevent cool air from escaping in the summer and keeps warm air inside during the winter. It’s also a good idea to check out the patio doors’ energy efficiency overall, including certification from ENERGY STAR as well as the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), helping homeowners save money on energy costs and protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. The door systems are engineered to form a seal that creates an energy-efficient envelope to help stabilize interior temperatures and decrease the home’s energy costs.
By following these summer living basics, you can enjoy your new outdoor living space all summer and for many years to come.