As the season of rebirth and renewal, Spring is the harbinger of all good things to come: gardens filled with growth, vibrant colors, and fresh flavors to awaken our hibernating taste buds, along with an eagerness to refresh and renew our environments. And for many, it's the beginning of a yearning to indulge in outdoor living and cooking whenever possible. There's no denying that outdoor living spaces have evolved into so much more than a patio set and simple grill; outdoor living now often encompasses elaborate living "rooms" complete with kitchens that offer all the amenities of the indoor versions and more. Are you considering making the outdoor living plunge? Here are some planning tips for making your outdoor living dreams come true.
Define the Purpose
Step one is to define the purpose of your outdoor living space. How will you use the area? A simple kitchen and cozy dining nook may suffice. Or perhaps you want an elaborate kitchen and large al fresco dining space. Think about what you want to cook outdoors and where you want to do the prep work. Where do you want to wash your hands or clean the dishes? How about a kitchen garden? Do you want a small, intimate living space or a large gathering and entertaining area? How about an entertainment center, outdoor theater, or a place for lawn games?
Use your imagination! Your backyard is an open canvas. Spend time in your yard creating a mental image of your outdoor living vision. It helps to think in terms of rooms. Envision a pergola or other outdoor structure to help define the space. Be sure to go indoors and look out the windows to get an idea of what you’d like to see when you look out. Dream big at first, without constraints. Later you can prioritize your needs and desires to set more reasonable and practical design goals.
Create a Plan
Make the most efficient use of space and time and avoid costly mistakes by working with a professional designer and landscape architect who will evaluate the site, provide solutions, and offer advice. Trained professionals will help develop a solid plan that includes your must-have elements (needs) as well as your wants. You will receive a project estimate before beginning, so this is your chance to scale back if necessary. Professional designers can also help you create a structured plan that will allow you to do the work in phases to to stay within your budget (and not end up with a mismatched hodgepodge or unfinished looking final result).
Purchase Quality Products
Outdoor furnishings, kitchen appliances, and countertops are typically top priorities. Commit to purchasing high quality, well-designed products that will withstand the outdoor elements much longer than similar looking, but less expensive and likely inferior options. You'll find the investment will pay off in the long run.
Outdoor rooms are definitely not a passing fad. They're relaxing and enjoyable home improvements that can be added for much less than the cost of indoor construction and in a fraction of the time. With proper planning, you can turn your outdoor living dream space into a reality.
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