It’s a cool spring or summer evening and your family and friends are curled up by a warm fire in your backyard, with a sizzling dinner sending up enticing aromas from the grill.
Quickly gaining popularity are outdoor hearths and fireplaces.
More than just a growing trend in home design, outdoor rooms like these are fast becoming a cost-effective and stylish way to expand a home’s living space while creating a warm environment for socializing and family fun.
“By definition, an outdoor room is simply an outdoor area that homeowners can use for relaxing, cooking and entertaining,” said Katherine Whiteside, best-selling garden and cookbook author. “By adding some furniture and propane appliances to an existing patio, garden or deck, you have the beginnings of a great outdoor room.”
A basic outdoor room can cost less than $1,000, with more luxurious options and designs costing more. Of course, one beauty of creating an outdoor living space is that you can always start with a simple design with basic amenities and add to it over time as your budget allows.
According to a survey conducted by the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), 35 percent of homeowners surveyed said they currently had a finished outdoor room and one in three of those homeowners who did not yet have one planned to design one.
Taken together, more than half of U.S. homes could have an outdoor entertaining area this year — that’s a lot of opportunities for get-togethers and parties.
Adding an outdoor room can be more than just a way to bring your living room outside — it can also increase the value of your home. Industry professionals say that the design and features of a home’s outdoor space can add as much as 30 percent to the total value of the property.
Here are some helpful tips for creating your own outdoor room:
• Ambiance is your top priority. Quickly gaining popularity, for example, are outdoor hearths, such as fire pits, outdoor fireplaces and chimnies. Additionally, arrange your furniture to create a cozy atmosphere, and consider ways to abate noise, such as wind chimes or trickling fountains.
• Privacy is a big issue and easy to attain. In a suburban yard, build a simple privacy fence and grow sunflowers next to it. If you’re in an urban area, think about people who might be looking in on your space from above. A big market umbrella could solve that dilemma.
• Now think about protection from the elements — sun, rain and cold. You have sun and rain partially covered with your market umbrella, so be sure you’re set for chillier evenings. Consider a propane tabletop heater, which is only two feel tall but heats five feet in diameter. A patio heater by the grill will keep your cook warm on chilly nights.
• Protection from the elements leads right into comfort. You have to be warm, so think about installing a porch floor with propane radiant heating. You need a place to sit down, so choose comfortable furniture. Be sure to add a mosquito chaser to keep pesky insects away.
• Once you have these basics down, concentrate on dining and what to cook. Today’s propane grills come with all sorts of accessories that make creating appetizers and a main course a snap. You can get a rotisserie, a grill with a burner next to it, or even woks.
Pulling together an outdoor living space also is an opportunity to express your creativity with landscaping and lighting — all with an eye on improving your enjoyment of your own home while increasing its value.
—From Statepoint Media