You see them pretty much everywhere these days: Back yard living rooms that make you want to just kick back, relax, and put your feet up right on the coffee table fireplace – even if you’re walking through a model home at the moment. The images are everywhere, online, in home magazines, and pretty much anyplace that sells products that are meant to go into a back yard.
And why not? They look incredible, after all. Especially in a city like Las Vegas with sunshine over 300 days of the year, outdoor living isn’t a trend – it’s a lifestyle. Outdoor rooms add versatile and elegant square footage to your home. They extend your living space and are typically more affordable than interior home renovations and construction.
If you’ve been thinking about stepping up the features and livability of your back yard space, here’s a few suggestions to get you started down that path. (And then you can invite us over for your award-winning bbq recipe!)
Step 1: Decide what you’ll be using your new Outdoor Living Room for the most.
Do you have a big family and lots of friends that make you want to get outside more often for meals or casual entertaining? Or are you looking for a peaceful place to relax? Defining the use of your outdoor space gives you a blueprint of how to furnish and outfit your new outdoor living area to best meet your needs.
Basically, the first step is to determine the overall purpose for your new living area. Imagine how you will use the space, and think about a layout, furniture and possibly even appliances that will help you realize your dream. And then . . .
Step 2: Determine your budget.
While it’s certainly possible to create an inspiring outdoor space at minimal cost – you also have the option of taking your kitchen and dining room on the road, too. A back yard oasis gives you all the options you could ask for – from adding a full range of appliances, such as ovens, cooktops, refrigerators, cabinetry, and sinks – to beautiful mood-setting (and serviceable) outdoor fireplaces, either freestanding, set into furniture pieces, or placed in a traditional wall location. Building a patio or veranda with a cover? Be sure to factor in the ceiling fans – they’re great for circulating air in all seasons.
The point is, you have options. And if not all of them are cost-effective for you at once, you can simply plan ahead with certain infrastructure inclusions that will allow you to add items easily later. (For example, if you’re putting in any hardscape such as concrete or pavers, install piping or necessary electrical conduit lines for easy access in the future.)
Step 3: Set the mood. Lighting and warmth create atmosphere.
Those fireplaces we mentioned above – talk about romantic evenings; or even to create that sense of gathering around a campfire in the great outdoors. (And seriously, when’s the last time you actually got to toast a marshmallow on a stick – besides on your stovetop?) The point is, lighting – whether from a gas flame or Chinese lanterns has a huge effect on the feel and tone of your space. Taking the time to find some special and creative lighting features will make a noticeable difference in the atmosphere you create for your guests.
Step 4: Take a look around. Discover the best features of your back yard space – then design and furnish it accordingly.
If you’re creating an outdoor room in a location that offers an incredible setting, select and arrange your furniture to show it off. Or take advantage of garden areas to add calming elements, like a meditation bench, or to showcase a poolside deck. The important thing is to choose pieces that appeal to you aesthetically, whether it’s a matching set from Home Depot, or a collection of singular favorite pieces from multiple places. Think Pier One, Home Goods – those great chairs, benches or sofas that you’ve seen in the past and loved, but just didn’t have a place to put them . . . yet. Now’s your chance!
You’ll also want to consider your local climate – in the case of Las Vegas, specifically where the sunlight falls in your space. Then plan accordingly with umbrellas, shades, or other protection. That way, you can utilize your outdoor space even more often.
Step 5: Correctly assess what you can do yourself – and what you should hire the professionals to handle. (See our last blog post for clues on this topic)
Once you’ve gone through the planning and the process of bringing it to life, there’s one thing you won’t need to worry about: Friends and family helping you enjoy the fruits of your labor. Outdoor spaces bring people together, put people at ease, and will be a source of many happy memories for years to come. So, what kind of wine did you say you like?