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Outdoor Living

Outdoor Living

Years ago "Outdoor Living" meant sitting on the front porch with a few neighbors, passing time until the street lights went on and the kids came home. That was before every house had a backyard patio or deck and leaf blowers hadn't been invented. The focus back then was on neighborhoods and the community outside. Next came "cocooning," staying indoors with the air conditioning, the big screen TV and a microwave dinner. Thankfully, that time has passed and now, everywhere you look, you're being asked to "join the conversation." The cycle is back to nature, green things and community good. Along with that, people are re-discoving their backyards, gardening and the pleasures of outdoor living.

In fact, beautifying your outdoor space, creating a private garden area, poolside outdoor kitchen or even a covered outdoor living room has become a popular way to extend the livable portion of your property. In addition, the return on your investment is generally positive, "Outdoor living spaces, landscaping, decks and patios all make a big difference -- not only in how comfortable your current home is now, but how buyers see it when you're ready to sell."

Separating your outdoor living spaces allows you to create unique, yet functional, designs for each of them. The more successful you are in physically separating one outdoor living space from another, the more flexibility you have to diversify. Indeed, the biggest obstacle standing in most people's way is that it just doesn't occur to them to divide up a yard so as to maximize their enjoyment of it.

Part of the beauty behind the concept of separate "rooms" in a house is that each unit is unique unto itself. Consequently, you can install a component in the kitchen that looks great there, without worrying that it would look out of place if viewed from the bedroom. The same is true for outdoor living spaces. Think of the structural components of outdoor living spaces in terms of their counterparts in indoor rooms: ground (floor), sky (ceiling), dividers (walls), lighting, and ambience.

For example,

  • Floors might consist of grass, decking, pebbles or slate.
  • Walls could be man-made, such as lattice or fencing. Or, natural, such as hedges, tall grasses or stone.
  • Ceilings might be shade sails or shade trees, arbors, umbrellas, porch ceilings or canvas canopies.
  • Lighting might consist of solar accent lights complimented by the flickering flame of a garden torch or fire bowl.

    In designing your outdoor living space, you have a lot of leeway. Most of the outdoor elements are interchangeable and can be mixed and matched, depending on your needs, budget and personality. Hedges may form one wall, fencing another. Even raised beds, container gardens and furniture can be attractive and functional separators. And, while a vine-covered arbor may be more inspiring to gaze up at than a lawn umbrella, the umbrella will keep you -- and the books you may be reading -- dry!

    Outdoor patio furniture sets, garden benches, hammocks and similar accessories can really define an outdoor space and enhance both its appearance and its usability. For many people, the best place for alfresco entertainment is either the patio or the deck. Fortunately, a wide variety of patio dining sets and outdoor couches, bars and loungers are now available. With all-weather furniture, convenenient storage options and outdoor fireplaces, outdoor living can be almost year round!