Bringing the Best of the Indoors…Out!

By Jane Lockhart, BAAID

Remember when you were young and your mom kicked you out of the house to play? Although you might have been reluctant at the start, you would end up spending entire days outside, entertaining yourself until the street lights went on.

As big kids, we still love being outdoors. But now we also like having every convenience available to us, just as we have indoors. By creating an outdoor room, we can take everything needed for entertaining from the inside of the house out into our yards—and we can do it in style. The front porch has evolved and moved to the back of the house, modelled after the Italian loggia or covered deck. These three-season “rooms” may feature large fireplaces, televisions, wet bars, dining and lounge areas, and built-in heaters in the ceiling—multiple uses for one space.

Is it a shed or a “she shed”?

You almost have to look twice to see if a garden shed is being used for garden tools. Today, it’s quite on trend to convert a shed into a little garden retreat. In line with the small-home movement, clever placement of furniture, storage solutions, and running electricity and water can elevate any small space into a fully functional mini-home. Whether it’s used as a studio, workshop, retreat or shed, we’re taking a second look at how we employ our yards to add more functional space.

Dedicate outdoor rooms to all forms of entertaining

Adding shelter structures such as pergolas draped in vines or solid-roofed gazebos creates lovely features in a yard that can double-up as rooms. Put a fire pit and comfy seating under the pergola and you have a perfect room in which to enjoy the evening stars by firelight. Gazebos can be outfitted with screened walls for added protection. Powder-coated metal frame kits are available at big-box stores for the DIY crowd or can be custom made and installed if you want a more permanent structure.

It’s nice to have, but you don’t actually need a swimming pool to have a pool house or cabana. The addition of a stand-alone entertaining “room” is a fun addition to any yard. Friends can grab a stool, pull up to the counter and watch the game on television, sip a fruity drink or simply hang out in a shady spot. It’s a great way to recreate that tropical-resort feeling in your own backyard.

Elevate the fire pit

Outdoor brick pizza ovens and extra-large, wood-fired grilling surfaces are getting their own space, too. Add a chimney and a roof, and you will have an extraordinary gathering spot where fire and food are the focus.

Kitchens and cabinetry come outdoors

Speaking of food, one of the fastest-growing outdoor-room trends is for al fresco kitchens and cabinetry. Manufacturers are not only making cabinets for the outside as attractive as those used in indoor kitchens, but they are building them to withstand the elements. Along with BBQ grills, we’re integrating stovetops, ovens, fridges, sinks with running water and even special niches for your smoker.

As with an indoor kitchen, you can add plenty of built-in storage space so that everything is to hand and you don’t have to spend time running back into the house for condiments or ice. And many are including a structure in their landscaping plans, opting to build a roof over the kitchen so it can be used year-round.

When summer is a mere whisper of the four seasons, take advantage of every minute by taking the indoors outside, where there’s always room for a party.

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