Creating an Outdoor Room

Good planning and these eight tips will help turn a backyard space into an outdoor living room.

Designing a functional, flexible outdoor space is much like designing an interior room. Develop your outdoor living room plan in a sequence, working from the most general to the most specific features. Commit your design to paper, preferably to scale, and include all elements of your yard, including the pool, deck, patio, landscaping and walkways. And think about traffic patterns, both to and from rooms in your home and to areas in your yard. Additionally, when planning your outdoor living room, consider these tips:

1. Keep most of the roof solid, rather than using open rafters or lattice. This not only provides more useful shelter, but also helps define the space as a room.

2. Include an outdoor fireplace. It creates a great focal point and allows you to use the space in cool weather. Check local regulations for any setback and construction restrictions or bans on wood-burning fireplaces.

3. Plan for the long-term. Even if it takes you five years to implement your design, it is important to have a cohesive plan and stick with it.

4. Physically connect the outdoor room to your home. This will save you money on utility connections, allow you to use existing walls, and offer easy access to the indoors.

5. Choose comfortable, weather-resistant furniture. Look for chairs that encourage lounging, and have fun with fabric. Outdoor fabric that can stand up to harsh conditions is now available in a wide range of colors and patterns.

6. Add visual warmth. Try incorporating a chandelier, embellishing the fireplace mantel or adding decorative wall accents in your outdoor living room.

7. Factor in landscaping. To enjoy an outdoor room year-round, go with a simple landscape plan with interesting evergreen foliage, but splurge on nice containers for flowers. This introduces color and softness to the surroundings without the hassle of tending to beds.

8. Think big. Make the outdoor room as large as you can to maximize the benefits.


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