By Erik J. Martin
You’ve had your fill of holiday regaling and hosting guests indoors over these cold winter months, and you’re eager to take your entertaining ambitions outdoors once the weather breaks. Problem is, your backyard isn’t adequately equipped to accommodate alfresco get-togethers. Fortunately, you’ve got time to remedy the matter by planning ahead and prepping a proper outdoor living area that can be ready by springtime.
“Research shows that Americans entertain guests in their homes at least once a month, which means a great outdoor entertainment space in the warmer months is a must-have,” says Doug Mucher, product manager for CertainTeed in Malvern, Pennsylvania. “Today’s homeowners see an outdoor living space as an extension of their indoor living spaces. It’s also a less expensive way to increase the square footage of your home.”
Technology backlash has contributed to this trend, too.
Because technology has become so rampant, people are ready to connect more with nature. The easiest way to do that for most people on a regular basis is to create a backyard oasis. Many homeowners are eager to gather around the fire pit in their backyard with their friends and ignore their iPhones for a while and just talk.
What’s more, enhanced outdoor living on your property fits within the “staycation” movement.
More people are choosing to keep their dollars within their own dwellings instead of spending money on vacations.
The goal of creating an outdoor living area should be to create a comfortable and harmonious environment that blends in with your current home style while also being functional and easy to maintain.
Components that comprise such spaces typically include comfortable, cushion-topped, outdoor-rated furniture like a sofa or bench, chairs, and/or seat walls; table or fire pit; pergola, awning or large umbrella; and grill or outdoor kitchen cook station.
Seat walls are huge right now because they help define the boundary of the outdoor space while also providing extra seating. Fire pits, fire bowls, and chimineas remain popular because fire is fascinating to watch, is fun to cook food over, and seems to allow for long conversations.
Weather-resistant full dining tables are in demand, too.
Many people are investing in more expensive and expansive exterior dining situations nowadays as outdoor entertaining options grow.
Try to choose pieces that harmonize with your indoor furniture, if possible.
Don’t buy furniture that doesn’t fit the look of your home or is totally opposite to what your interior looks like. This should be an extension of the inside to outside.
Shopping for these items is the fun part. First, however, it’s essential to plan the space carefully.
Consider how you actually use the space. How often do you entertain? How many people do you have over when you’re entertaining? Are you cooking a full meal outside or simply grilling? These are all factors that determine the size and layout of the outdoor area you’re planning.
Next, ponder the layout of your property.
Create something that makes sense for your family and your outdoor available space. For example, if you have a big backyard with ample room, a large deck with lots of furniture would be a great addition. However, a smaller yard may warrant a nice patio area and garden instead – perhaps one surrounded by a privacy fence with sound-blocking ability.
Make a point to avoid areas directly under trees, since tree sap, tree pollens, and bird droppings can make your items look bad quickly.
That’s why a covered area is often best for outdoor entertaining.
Low-lying areas and areas within about five feet of a tree or brush line should be avoided to prevent water problems and to keep away from insects. You also want to make sure that your chosen deck or patio area has a firm foundation that can support the weight of your outdoor living equipment.
Keep off the grass if you can, as well.
Most people want a yard with some kind of grass or other plantings for the beauty and softness that nature provides, so place your furniture away from it.