Light, heat, and roofing all factor into getting the most from your outdoor living space. Architectural designer Matt Retzak offers these insights into minimizing your exposure to the elements:
• Covering or partially enclosing a space can extend its use (consider heaters and hearths). Roofing also provides shade from direct sunlight.
• Adding an outdoor ceiling fan over a dining table provides a cooling breeze and reduces bugs during meals.
• If you are near water or your climate is prone to insects, consider screening in a portion of your space, especially if you'll be doing a lot of cooking.
• A south-facing outdoor space will warm up quickly and help the area feel more comfortable in cooler months.
• Lighting sets the mood after the sun goes down. A single spotlight creates harsh glare and shadows. Multiple sources of softer light—such as sconces, lanterns, landscape lighting, and candles—are more inviting.
Outdoor Living Checklist
When planning an outdoor living space, consider the function and the mood you want to create—will you mainly kick back and relax, or throw festive parties? If your budget doesn't allow you to appoint the space exactly as you'd like right now, dream big … but add a little at a time. The basic ingredients are a grill, a table, and chairs, but these extra elements add life to outdoor living:• Hearth—fireplace, fire pit, or chiminea
• Sound system
• Weatherproof television
• Couches or futon beds
• Weatherproof art
• Outdoor lamps, rugs, pillows, fabrics, and end tables
• Climate control—fans, heat lamps, and windbreaks
• Kitchen—built-in grill, refrigerator, sink, prep space, and storage
Love to entertain? Build in Extra Seating
Consider maximizing your space with built-in or attached masonry benches and landscape walls, which double as seats (counter space, too) to accommodate guests without adding more freestanding furniture to an intimate space. Conversely, if the outdoor room is large and designed to accommodate many people, provide smaller, more intimate spaces within the area to create enclaves.