Outdoor space ranks at top of homeowners’ list

Outdoor space ranks at top of homeowners’ list

Jeb Breithaupt (Photo: The Times )

As the economy improves and homeowners get more comfortable with spending a little extra money upgrading their homes, it’s no surprise the single, most-popular home improvement — by a landslide — is the outdoor living space.

In the recently released Home Design Trends Survey by the American Institute of Architects, more homeowners said they want to add or improve an outdoor living space like a patio, porch or outdoor kitchen than any other kind of room.

In our part of the country, that sentiment is even stronger. Having a nice backyard “room” that allows us to sit outside to enjoy the fall weather as the heat starts to give way to comfortable evening temperatures is one of the true pleasures of living in Louisiana.

If you’ve been thinking about upgrading your patio, now’s a good time to do it — while there’s still enough “autumn” left to get the job done in time to use your new and improved outdoor room this year. Here are three ideas for how to convert part of your backyard — or even an existing patio — into another room of your house:

Build it big. The biggest regret most homeowners have after they add a patio is they didn’t make it more spacious. So if you already have a patio and you want to make it better, make it bigger. If you’re adding one from scratch, think big.

How big depends, of course, on the size of your budget, your yard and your house. You don’t want a giant patio to dwarf your home, and you might not want it to cover your entire backyard. But you do need it to be big enough for how you intend to use it. Will you be hosting outdoor barbecues and LSU game-day parties? Do you want to have your family’s Thanksgiving dinner outdoors?

Think about how big of a crowd you’d like to be able to accommodate out there, and plan the size accordingly. Talk to your contractor about how you can get an outdoor space as large as you like without breaking the bank or tilting the design balance between your home and your patio too far in the direction of the patio.

Build in a kitchen. If you’re going to invest in a comfortable, stylish outdoor “room,” make sure it’s equipped with everything you need and want so you’ll use it as often as possible. In my experience, part of that “everything” is an outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, some weather-resistant storage and food-prep areas, and maybe a “wow” factor like a brick or stone pizza oven.

It can be a pain cooking inside when the party is outdoors. For one, whoever’s cooking is going to miss most of the fun. And two, carrying food and dishes from the indoor kitchen to the outdoor dining area is a time-consuming hassle.

Just as you like to talk to the people you’re cooking for when you serve the meal indoors, you’re going to want to participate in the conversations your family or guests are having outdoors as you prepare an al fresco feast. An outdoor kitchen keeps all of the activity — cooking, conversation and company — in the same place.

Outdoor space ranks at top of homeowners’ list

Weatherproof your outdoor room. You’ll use your patio and outdoor kitchen a lot more if you build in protections against rain and extreme heat. Your design/build contractor can tell you about options for a roof, awning, trellis or another overhead cover that will help keep the weather out so you don’t have to run indoors every time it starts to sprinkle.

Two great ideas to make your patio an all-season extension of your home:

• Install fans on the ceiling (if the patio is covered by a roof) or walls to help circulate the air and make everyone feel cooler on hot days.

• Build in a fire pit or an outdoor fireplace so everyone can gather around it to keep warm on crisp fall and early winter evenings. A tip: Take a look at gas-fired models with glass or another decorative medium for the flames to dance around. These fancy fireplaces and fire pits not only keep everyone warm, but they’re great conversation starters.

Jeb Breithaupt is a third-generation remodeler who has been president of JEB Design/Build in Shreveport since 1983.

www.shreveporttimes.com/story/life/home-garden/2014/10/10/outdoor-space-ranks-top-homeowners-list/16985125/


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