When we first work with clients, we talk about the basics of a new custom home: How many rooms, how many bathrooms, how big is the kitchen… It all begins with two-by-fours and floor plans and lighting choices.
If living through a year of a pandemic has taught us anything, however, it’s that planning an attractive and functional outdoor space is every bit as important as creating the right sight-line from the couch to the television. What begins as a desire for a nice patio becomes a conversation about creating an extension of your indoor living spaces.
Here are some things to consider:
- Location, location, location.
When building on a new lot, we consider the housing site with relation to elevation, rain runoff, and the sun. Rooms where you spend your mornings, like a kitchen or breakfast nook, benefit from early morning sun. A patio deserves the same consideration. Early morning sun makes your patio a great spot for morning coffee. A sweeping backyard and westward views provide the perfect setting for an evening glass of wine. With the right planning, your patio may get ample sunlight throughout the day for maximum enjoyment.
Enjoying the sunshine doesn’t mean roasting like a lobster every day. Umbrellas, thoughtfully placed shade trees, or a trellis or pergola can allow you to enjoy the space while having a respite from direct sunlight.
Enjoyment of your outdoor space needn’t end when the sun goes down. While your home office or bathroom may require more intense lighting, subtle accent lights can cast your patio in a warm glow well into the evening hours. Ground and landscape lighting helps to define the borders of your outdoor “room”, while low-wattage hanging or string lights can give your patio a lovely twilight aura.
It seems that every patio today needs a fire pit, but we enjoy firing up a grill much better. We’ve helped clients create outdoor wood ovens, built in grilling stations, and more. We know that every party ends up in the kitchen, so locate your cook station in an out-of-the way but convenient spot. You’ll want folks to see you twirling those tongs. Be aware of fire safety, though!
- More Cooking!
It can be a tremendous hassle moving from your indoor kitchen to your outdoor kitchen, especially if they’re on separate levels. Many have opted to wire their outdoor spaces to accommodate appliances like refrigerators and ovens. This allows you to pre-stage your ingredients for your cookout. Installing plumbing for an outdoor sink or wash station is really no more complicated than installing a spigot for your garden hose, even with hot & cold water.
- Let it Sing.
Much like ambient lighting, a delightful touch is carefully placed speakers for your outdoor space. Nothing sets the tone for a gathering like some mood music. While some are audiophiles are eager to show off their gadgets, many manufacturers design speakers and sound equipment that blend into their surroundings. Wall-mounted speakers painted the same color as the wall or landscape speakers that look like small rocks or boulders fill spaces with sound without looking like a concert stage. With a television, however, using Bluetooth to connect your speakers to the T.V. can offer the joy of watching a concert or sporting event with all of the enjoyment of visiting your favorite outdoor concert pavilion or ballpark. One thing to consider, however, is how weatherized your equipment is. Careful planning may allow you to leave your television and gear in place year-round, or you may otherwise be constantly checking weather reports.
As we travel into Spring and the weather starts to improve, we’re certain that many of our area businesses, especially the restaurants and coffee shops, will take full advantage of their outdoor spaces. For many of us, it will be a welcome opportunity to once again join with friends and family.
With the right planning, your home can also have such a space, and it’s open every day of the year.