Outdoor Room Renovation

Sunday, August 9, 2009
Tempted to add an outdoor room to your home so you can spend as much time as possible outside? An outdoor room can serve as a wonderful extension of your living and/or dining room. By installing an overhead canopy or roof, you’ll be able to sit outdoors even in the rain. Cabinetry & Storage
Do some research before you get started: read design and gardening magazines, talk to friends and acquaintances, and sign up for a garden tour of local residences. Ideally, your outdoor room should reflect your home's architectural style, so look for ideas that connect with and complement your indoor spaces.Decide what area you can use for an outdoor room, and start a scrapbook that you can use to create a “wish list.” Then ask yourself a few questions to determine what kind of space will meet the needs of your lifestyle. Do you want:
  • a small bistro table and two chairs on your balcony?
  • a private rooftop deck with chairs and loungers for parties and late-night stargazing?
  • an enclosed space between your home and your garden furnished with a lavish dining table and chairs, a waterfall, plants, a sun deck and conversation nook?
  • a patio or deck just off your kitchen to enjoy afternoon lunches?
  • an enclosed sunroom off your living room to expand your home's entertainment space?
Set a budget and draw up a plan
Visit gardening and outdoor stores and outlets with your scrapbook to see how much you can afford to spend. Go online to research products and manufacturers’ information. Costs vary widely, but you can probably build an outdoor room for much less than it would cost for interior renovation.

The basic elements
No matter what your budget, your goal should be to create a space that seamlessly connects with your house and lifestyle, where you and your guests can relax. It can include some or all of the following:

Food preparation: Most people opt for a barbecue, grill or fire pit, plus a side table large enough to hold food fixings and platters. But your outdoor room can contain as many features as your kitchen -- generous counter space, a cocktail bar, sinks outfitted with plumbing, a cooking station, an all-weather stove complete with grill and pizza oven, a refrigerator and a dishwasher.

Furniture: Comfortable, weather-resistant patio chairs that invite people to settle in for a while are important. You might also consider a dining room table and end tables, plus chaise lounges or hammocks. Make sure they're made of materials designed for outdoor use in your part of the country. Resin, for instance, may be inexpensive and easy to clean, but it may be too light if you live in a windy location. Wicker can be terrific for shady areas, but degrades when constantly exposed to sun and wind.

Lighting: Landscape lighting is ideal for conversation and dining areas, or for pathways, pools and landscaping. You can even have fixtures installed directly into decks or step risers. Candles can add romance to an outdoor meal.

Water: Fountains, ponds and waterfalls are becoming increasingly popular and can create a calming atmosphere. While they needn't be expensive, they are high-maintenance, so take that into consideration.

Decoration: The great outdoors is your most important decoration -- a beautiful vista in the distance, or your very own ground cover, trees, plants and shrubs. Choose flora that will give you an interesting mix of color and texture for all seasons. Your outdoor room will then provide a pleasant view no matter what the time of year. Add wall decorations, murals or sculptures to complement the d├ęcor. For parties, you can add an inexpensive acrylic area rug and tablecloth. Weigh the edges of the cloth down with drapery weights or strings of lights.