Transform your backyard into a comfortable outdoor living area
Now that summer is officially in full swing it’s easy to be drawn to the outdoors, especially at mealtime. Enjoying family dinner on the patio can become a treasured past time, and while it might be nice to sit on plastic chairs eating hot dogs off of paper plates around the portable grill for a few weekends, eventually you’ll have to create a more permanent outdoor living space. A built in grill with enough preparation space around it can make outdoor cooking a breeze, and having a comfortable area with a real table and chairs can significantly extend your outdoor time. Create your perfect backyard oasis and learn how to design an outdoor living space for the whole family.
Plan for your projected use
Think about what your ideal uses for your outdoor living space will be. Do you plan to cook up large family barbecues every weekend or is a glass of iced tea on a chair more your style? Do you have children who like lots of space to play games or will you be hosting adults who will stick closer to the house? Do you hope to grow some of your own food or do you need the cooking area to be close to the house kitchen? Will you be outside in the evenings or during the day? Answering these questions will help you determine the best products and designs for your outdoor living space.
If you’re working with a landscaped or semi-landscaped yard, choose a space that would require the least amount of work to transform, preferably near the house. Spend some time in your backyard in the afternoon and evening to know where would be the most comfortable place for a patio and table and where your grill won’t get in the way; don’t put the grill too close to the walls of the house or you’ll end up with an unsightly black patch on your exterior paint from the smoke, not to mention a potential fire hazard. If your backyard is a blank canvas you’ll have significantly more freedom in your outdoor living space design.
Even if you live here in Southern California where the climate is ideal for outdoor living, you’ll want to make sure your dining area provides some form of protection from the elements so your backyard plans aren’t cancelled at first notice of a bad weather report. If you already have a back patio a simple patio cover or roof extension might be all you need to tuck away a table. It’s probably a good idea to have the dining area covered, or at least plan for the ability to install temporary covering for those high-noon summertime lunches and autumn weekends when leaves are falling.
You will probably have to work with a designer (and city inspector) for placement of the grill and sink. Your grill will have to be on the same gas or electric line as the house, which might restrict your placement. The same goes for an outdoor sink, but those two lines should be close together. This is also where having an outdoor designer comes in handy: a designer will have a layout template that has worked for other homes, and will also be able to custom design a layout that’s best suited for your needs.
While most homeowners may not have thousands and thousands of dollars stashed away to spend all at once (or at all) on an outdoor living space, the effectiveness of your transformed backyard will be diminished if you skimp in the wrong places. Spending the money on a designer or contractor will usually be worth it, especially considering the resale value. A poorly built deck, an uncomfortable eating area or a grill that’s just not in a good location will make your outdoor living space more like a ghost backyard. Design your outdoor living space in a smart manner: spend a little extra on the aspects you really want or need and try to save money elsewhere. For example, if a pro-quality built in grill is something you’ve always wanted, compromise with knockoff chairs and cushions. The point is to not skimp on the parts of your outdoor living area that matter to you or the whole thing will be a waste when it’s not used. Make it worth it!