Outdoor space: the new party place

The same backyard that used to be a sun-soaked slab of grass that needed to be mowed has now become a trendy hangout as living rooms and kitchens emerge and expand the imagination.

Gone are the days when flimsy patio chairs with a charcoal barbecue were a healthy way to spend some quality time outside. Now listen to this! The new interior is outdoors, as everything from upholstered furniture and waterproof LCD TVs to pizza ovens and, yes, even air conditioning, are moving in.

The generational backyard makeover, experts say, is the result of homeowners lowering their expectations of going from one home to another and making better use of the space they have. And by expanding indoor comfort to the outside, without actually adding a new room, homeowners have found a fabulous and stylish way to embrace energy conservation.

As if the conveniences and energy savings weren’t enough, the backyard bonanza has the potential for even greater benefits, such as increasing the value of your home. In other words, dreaming of ways to add structural interest to your backyard, deck, or side patio can be a way to expand more than just your livable square footage.

Tea Fresh – or outdoors – Lifestyle

The trend of transforming a glistening lawn into a sumptuous comfort zone may only be a few years old, but some guiding principles have already been developed.

When designing an outdoor area, try to combine the end of one space with the beginning of another. An easy way to do this is to match the colors of your interior and exterior walls, furniture, or kitchen appliances. After all, unifying interiors and exteriors is actually a move to expand homes by blurring the border lines.

Alternatively, an outdoor living space can be enhanced by defining cozy, intimate areas, especially if the expanse of the sky or a panoramic view feels overwhelming. Feel free to temper the living and unshakable force of nature with hedges, small trees, awnings and even curtains, which can be a stylish way to isolate yourself. Think Lawrence of Arabia in Sherman Oaks. A good real-world example of how drapes can drastically alter a property can be found at the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica.

The paradox of fresh way of life is that the owners want shelter in addition to freedom. The union of these seemingly contradictory concepts is what makes this new trend sublime and very popular.

Last year, 48 percent of the 600 architecture firms surveyed said luxury landscaping – decks, porches, patios and patios – was on the rise.

Homes built now often include an outdoor kitchen. And while the outdoor trend started in luxury homes, it has now migrated to entry-level homes.

If the idea of ​​turning your lawn into the ultimate backyard seems daunting, start your project by considering three basic components: environment, definite sense of place, and furnishings.

The atmosphere is what draws you to your favorite place, inside or out. Be personal. Do flower gardens and ponds create the right atmosphere? Or would it be better to have cobbled walkways and a gazebo? Maybe you’re athletic and see an outdoor spa pool as a focal point. Or perhaps your biggest consideration is young children. PlaySkool and primary colors send a message that few can misunderstand.

Choosing a well-defined sense of place is easy for most families. The winner is the kitchen, which should come as no surprise. How many times have you been to a party and noticed that most of the guests like to gather in the kitchen?

Add to that the enormous impact that experts say the Food Network has had on this nation’s need to grill and dine in divine spaces.

Naturally, the furniture begins with a grill, many of which are apparently being used. It is estimated that Americans will cook three billion meals outdoors this year.

While some folks are happy with a $ 300 grill, others can’t resist the urge to increase the size and spend $ 30,000 or more on fancy accessories like a built-in warming drawer, side burner, beer dispenser, and space a gas. Heater.

The owners of Barbeques Galore, Lake Forest, California call high-end grills “backyard bling,” because they make such a bold statement on a patio. Stainless steel grills remain popular and make an attractive centerpiece for an outdoor kitchen or family room.

And as the great grill debate continues that pits gas versus charcoal, the folks at Barbeques Galore say that some families add a charcoal grill as a supplement to the gas unit. Purists say that the taste of food prepared on a charcoal grill is unbeatable. But gas grills heat up faster and burn cleaner. An electric grill is ideal for small spaces and gatherings.

If you are on the budget and prefer a cozy extension to the living room, you might consider adding a 32 “MirageVision HDTV to your outdoor setting. Designed for outdoor use, it is much brighter than a traditional TV, And the all-weather design keeps you safe from rain, dirt, and extreme temperatures.

There are also advances in other areas of outdoor living. Backyard furniture doesn’t need to be limited to aluminum frames with nylon seats and backs. Companies like F. Schumacher and Scalamandre have developed weather resistant fabrics with a wide variety of patterns and colors. In fact, designers are seeing a move away from the merely utilitarian to a more sophisticated and elaborate outdoor environment.

Still, if you’re starting from scratch and don’t have a huge budget to create what is essentially a series of outdoor rooms, think about focal points. For example, a new patio or deck quickly defines the space. And a trellis, gazebo, or table and chair strategically placed under a tree can be a rewarding way to launch yourself into outer space.

However, the award for mind-blowing overconversion should go to the Houston-based interior designer who reports that some of her clients beat the heat by installing air conditioning vents outside.

Outer space creates a home sweet home

If this all seems too big or complicated, remember that the concept of found space It’s really just an attempt to make your property more usable, experts say. And making your space work for you is consistent with another trend. It’s that Americans spend more time at home.

A survey by the Propane Education & Research Council showed that 50 percent of survey participants now spend more time at home than five years ago. And those who live at home put relaxing outdoors, not indoors, at the top of their wish list.

So open your mind and your back door and do a little study of your own. Isn’t it about time you cleaned up your garden clutter? Get rid of stunted or diseased plants in your outdoor space and trim overgrown trees and shrubs. This is your first step in creating your new outdoor living zone.

Maybe this is the year you finally get rid of that rusty swing or bench and that crooked basketball hoop no one wears anymore. Summer is the season of possibilities and there is no better time to make room for something new.

Copyright 2007