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Creating an Outdoor Living Space

Planning An Outdoor Living Space

When entertaining the favorite hangout in my home always seemed to be the kitchen. There seems to be a magnetic pull to the kitchen. This is especially true when my wife is in there entertaining the crowd with her culinary skills and sense of humor.  A sense of humor, I might add, sometimes at my expense!!

Summertime however is a different story, the polarity switches to the outdoors.  The NEW hangout becomes my screened in porch, adjacent patio and pool deck. With a screened porch accessible to your house you automatically expand your living outdoors with all of the features, furnishings and amenities as you enjoy indoors. Having this sheltered room allows you to use real furniture, ceiling fans, rugs, lamps, television and audio systems.

Regardless of your climate outdoor living spaces are quickly becoming popular for
cooking, entertaining and relaxation.  More and more of my clients are looking to the outdoors to expand their homes and bring the same comforts they have inside to outdoor spaces. Creating multipurpose outdoor living spaces, that function as extensions of their home, is the goal!

Factors To Consider When Creating An Outdoor Living Space

The key to creating a unique outside grotto is to approach it in the same fashion as you do for interior spaces. Consider factors such as your decorating style, how you’ll use the space, lighting, cooking, etc.

Be creative in transitioning your indoor to outdoor living by employing; heat lamps, fire pits, custom decks, water features, outdoor fireplaces, shade or privacy solutions, outdoor kitchens, native and indigenous plantings as well as xeriscaping.

What is xeriscaping?

Xeriscaping simply means grouping plants with similar watering requirements together, choosing drought resistant plants, and trying reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation.

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Choose The Size And Layout Of Your Space

This decision is sometimes dictated by available property space but can also largely depend on what activities you want to accomplish.

Once your space is defined decide how you will organize this space. For example; create areas for activities such as cooking, conversation, and relaxation.

in how people will move in and through your space and considerations such as views, sun orientation, prevailing winds, and any privacy screen issues.

TIP: organize seating to overlook plantings, flowerbeds, water features, and other attractive scenery.

Determine Privacy Issues

Unlike your home you do not have walls for privacy so you need to create your own privacy screen. Installing a b
rick walls, fences or tall plants between you and the neighbors can create an intimate yet private space.

Existing concrete or brick walls can be covered with arbors and spreading vines to create vertical gardens. Vertical wood fences can be erected with slats or high-end lattices to create privacy screens.

Food Preparation

When creating an outdoor living space decide whether you will be preparing or cooking food in this space? Consider convenience and try to locate your cooking area in an easily accessible location from the house to reduce trips back and forth.

When creating an outdoor living space decide if you will want an outdoor kitchen or just a grill.  Consider access to power and water. Electricity, as well as cooking fuel, can be piped into your kitchen space. Outdoor kitchens integrated into masonry are becoming popular. Built-in items such as grill, sink and mini-refrigerator, and cooking fireplaces all integrated into masonry.

Converting to a natural gas grill, and connecting it to a natural gas connection can eliminate the need to refill propane tanks.

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Covered Retreat

When creating an outdoor living space decide whether you will want shelter from the sun or rain?  Awnings, umbrellas, a gazebo, or a pergola are all ways to shelter your outdoor guests from sunlight and light rain.

In addition to a pergola, many people now will frame a sheltered roof with open walls or walls on one or two sides. Open areas can be screened with shades or shutters as well.

Use Landscape Path Lighting

Landscape lighting not only adds a high-end look to your home but also adds a sense of safety to your space.

Installing a low-voltage, exterior landscape path lighting system to illuminate pathways, walkways, and garden edges is both functional and appealing.

It’s a great way to add beauty, curb appeal, and safety to your home garden, walkway, and entrance areas. A low-voltage system can save energy, and you avoid the struggles of burying wires 18 inches down or installing conduits.

We used Kichler 15820 LED Llena Path Lights on this landscape lighting remodel. Kichler offers a huge variety of landscape lighting– but we find that the textured architectural bronze finish is the perfect style and finish to blend into a flower bed. It’s a simple, clean design and one that many clients seem to gravitate towards.

The Kichler path lights are a perfect solution for highlighting flower beds, paths, or steps– as the downlight is positioned close to the ground and easy to see.

Water Features

Disappearing fountains, statues, vases, and rock fountains are becoming popular backyard focal points. Installing a disappearing or hidden basin water fountain does not take up as much space as a waterfall or Koi pond but still gives you that bubbling water sound and great looking landscape focal point.

Fire Bowls

Fireplaces, fire pits are back in favor and many people are including them in their
outdoor space. Whether you purchase a fire pit stand or build a permanent pit into your space it is a great place to gather around or just sit near it for warmth.

Fireplaces and fire pits have made a comeback, fire bowls like this Eldorado Stone Infinite fire bowl, are becoming more popular.

A well-placed fire bowl can be an ideal enhancement to your outdoor living space. The calm, warm feeling of a 65,000 BTU fire bowl creates a perfect setting for gatherings and entertainment.

Permanent fire bowls can be hard piped with propane or natural gas and have jewel-like glass crystals or black lava rock.

Natural gas bowls are ready for installation to fixed piping, liquid propane bowls ship with 10 ft hose extension plus 1/2in quick connect fitting.


Outdoor Shower

More and more homeowners are installing outdoor showers in their homes.  An outdoor shower is a fun and functional way to add value and interest when creating an outdoor living space.  Showering outdoors just feels good, and when combined with a cool landscape,  it can be a relaxing experience.

Today’s outdoor showers are well-designed and functional extensions of the indoor bathroom, except they’re located outdoors. 

They also cost a whole lot less than adding an indoor bathroom shower to your house. We built one here.

Outdoor Living – Beyond the Summer Months

If you are a homeowner hoping to enjoy the comfort of your screened porch long into the colder months, a more efficient and economical solution when creating an outdoor living space is to install an electric infrared heater.

Infrared heaters transfer heat to objects and people, rather than heating the air. Heated quartz elements within these heaters emit rays that are absorbed by other items, evenly distributing heat to surroundings.

Infrared heaters have three things going for them:

  1. Efficient Heating
  2. No Emissions
  3. Cost-effective

READ: Choosing an Infrared Heater

We Chose Infratech Heaters

We use Infratech brand heaters based on their reputation, safety features, aesthetics, and the fact that they are manufactured in Southern California.

Infratech heaters are a recognized name in the heating industry. Their heaters use infrared heat in the form of shortwave or mediumwave radiation. An Infratech heater uses an element in a quartz tube, which is different than a gas heater, which uses an open flame. Because you don’t have to worry about an open flame, infrared heaters require less clearance around them for safety. This means they can often be placed in tighter quarters and can be mounted flush in a ceiling to reduce visual impact.

This makes Infratech effective in both enclosed and open-air outdoor living spaces because you don’t have to worry about trapping and recirculating the air once it’s been heated. Infratech heating elements are rated for 5,000 hours of continuous use.

Heating Objects Versus Heating the Air

Infrared heaters don’t heat the air. They heat the objects at which they are pointed. This direct heat transfer is fundamentally different than other heating unit methods. This is why Infratech heaters are feasible in open-air settings. You’re not trying to heat the air; you’re heating the actual seating areas and objects instead.

Infrared heaters are silent, provide efficient heating, odorless, do not require propane or gas, are low maintenance, and are easy and convenient to operate.


Creating an outdoor living space can transform your home outdoors into an exciting entertainment Mecca for your family and friends.  Done correctly, it will become your own private grotto for you to relax.




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