It's relatively easy to expand the seasonality of outdoor living spaces and create a backyard focal point at the same time. Think of the appeal of a gazebo in a park-like setting, or a glowing fire to warm toes and spirits during the cooler months. Of course it's possible to create an outdoor living room simply by adding a furniture grouping to the patio just outside the back door, but why not create a bold destination room that seems like a mini-vacation every time you visit?
There are numerous ways to expand outdoor living options by creating room vignettes. Most require more imagination than money, and they pay big dividends in terms of style, comfort and value.
Build a Room with a Fireplace
Pave an area in the center of the yard or in a far corner with gravel or stepping stones and either build an outdoor masonry fireplace or add a portable wood-burning fire pit. With a settee, a wooden glider or a grouping of comfortable cushioned chairs, it will become a favorite spot to read a good book or enjoy sunset cocktails with friends.
Add a Gazebo or Pergola
Unique garden structures have always had an old-fashioned, romantic appeal. Today, there are kits for gazebos of all kinds, but all it really takes to build a unique covered dining pergola is some determination and a few straight beams. With a dining table under roof or under the stars, the ambience is unbeatable.
Plant a Specialty Garden
A kitchen garden, full of fragrant herbs and seasonal vegetables yours for the picking is a great way to get out of the house for a piece of each day. But also consider a wildflower garden to attract pollinators and pretty butterflies, a night-blooming garden, a whimsical sunflower garden or even a rock garden. Specialty gardens and other landscaping projects can be easy-care spaces or demonstrate a homeowner's passion for nature. Either way, they're an attractive outdoor space.
Make a Garden Path
Map out a "Yellow Brick Road" to a remote seating area; or install a dry river bed that leads to a petite landscaped area that encourages spreading a quilt and having a picnic. It can be a charming summer retreat, or a hideaway room in the early spring or late fall.
Use Lighting, Arbors and Gates
Outdoor living rooms in Central Edmonton homes don't have to be large, but their boundaries should be defined in some way, whether guests pass through a gate, under an arbor, or enter a wonderland of sparkling light. Wrap tree trunks in miniature string lights, or string lanterns through the branches. Light a path with solar lighting. Plant climbing vines over an arbor created from bent pipe or rebar; or define a space with a picket fence.
Let the Games Begin
Whether there's a houseful of children, or only adults in residence, a gaming area is always a welcome addition. Think about installing a horseshoe pit, a croquet course, a bocce ball court, even a pad with a basketball hoop. Being active out-of-doors is a great way to add appeal to a yard.
The drama and intrigue of such inventive backyard rooms will not only enrich family life and enliven social gatherings, but landscaping improvements also add substantial value to the home. It's even better if the outdoor space is usable during extended seasons. Sometimes all that's needed is the illusion of an enclosed space or additional warmth!
By Justin Havre