A Great Outdoor Living Space: 5 Tips To Keep You On Track!

You can tell the difference

You walk into a semi-custom or tract home and you walk through the outdoor living space. It has the elements, but no cohesion. All of the ingredients, but none of the flavor. It has been built for everyone, so it was built for no one. It’s a shame that many builders think that it’s just a formula – BBQ, bar, fan, can lights, and maybe a fire pit. Ta Da!

Uh, no. There is much more to it than that.

Your outdoor living space should be as well-planned, as efficient and as comfortable as your indoor space. Your outdoor space should be a natural extension of your indoor space. At the heart of a great outdoor living space is living!

How will you live in your new space?

A private retreat off the master bedroom, covered and secluded? Will it be an outdoor kitchen that would make Bobby Flay jealous, or a simple covered area for your trusty webber grill? Will you watch the game out there with all your buddies, or listen to your favorite music over a remote entertainment system with someone special? Is it the view that matters, or the activities? Some areas will need to be downplayed, and others will be featured.

A successful outdoor living space begins with your budget and design. They don’t just happen, they are painstakingly planned, down to the last detail. So, here are five tips for planning a great outdoor living space:

1. Decide on a main feature and theme.

You’re not opening an amusement park, this is where you will live. You want to invest your time and money into features you will actually use and enjoy. A giant sized chess set seems cool, but most of them have a heavy layer of dust over them.

2. Consider the location of the space.

The natural factors, such as the amount of sunlight and prevailing winds you will encounter, and especially how they will be during the hours of the day you will most use the space. Consider your access to power and water, and how much unwanted noise you may have in your environment. Is it a loud A/C condenser, or are you just too close to the light rail? Maybe a water feature will give sonic cover for those annoyances. Is a second story next door a little too close? A hedge or wall properly placed may answer that issue.

3. Choose an appropriate cover.

Hey, it’s Sacramento, without a proper covered area you might as well just cook on the sidewalk. Covers for your space might be simple and inexpensive as an awning or roman shades, or a lattice covered arbor, or a waterproof cover such as an extension of the existing roofline or a waterproof deck above the space.

4. Create lighting options.

It’s not just can lights or flood lights. Lighting has many options and should be done in layers. You need the ability to have bright general lighting for large parties, or low lighting for intimate gatherings. Some lighting will fulfill code requirements and other will provide safety (such as rail or step lights) or security.

5. Consider the future.

A large pool with a slide makes sense when your kids are young, but if the youngest is leaving the nest soon, maybe a smaller pool makes sense. What type of flooring will you choose? Large flagstones look amazing, but if you have older family members using the space regularly, the uneven surface could pose problems. Are there too many steps for older folks to navigate? What type of upkeep are you signing up for? The planning and forethought are meant to help you create a space that will be as enjoyable 20 years from now as the day it is finished.