Homeowners are spending more time outdoors, and that means they’re also spending more time designing their outdoor spaces. According to research by the International Casual Furnishings Association, 83 percent of households have an outdoor living space. And, these spaces are increasingly becoming an extension of the home.
A recent National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) survey notes that some of the most popular outdoor trends include designing spaces that do double duty – for example, building a vertical garden that also serves as a privacy fence – incorporating smart technology such as programmable lighting and wireless sound systems, and utilizing greenery and other natural elements throughout a space to create a connection with nature.
Art Steedle, owner of Steedle Brothers Construction and Cargo Builders, which repurposes retired shipping containers into innovative spaces, appreciates the importance of the outdoor living environment. In fact, he likes to refer to outdoor spaces as the “third room”, a functional oasis where homeowners can relax, recharge and transition from a busy day.
Steedle says a great outdoor living area should include a clearly delineated living area that offers privacy and – if possible – an interesting view. When it comes to aesthetics, he notes that most homeowners are looking for clean-lined designs and products that require minimal maintenance. He’s a fan of cable rail infill for its sleek modern aesthetic and ability to define a space while also optimizing the view – whether a simple, unassuming backyard, or a stunning beach or mountain vista.
Following are a few of Steedle’s recommendations for building outdoor rooms that really shine:
1. Connect the indoors and outdoors. Incorporating sliding glass doors and lots of windows can help to create a seamless connection between the indoors and outdoors while also imparting a sense of well-being. Large, almost invisible openings from the interior of the home to the exterior – for instance, stacked door systems – encourage a natural flow that facilitates easy movement between the two spaces, significantly expanding a home’s livable area.
2. Erect a wall. Achieving privacy within an outdoor space is important, especially if neighboring homes are in close proximity. Building a “false” privacy wall is a convenient and economical way to define an outdoor living area. You can create a portable partition using a large louvered screen or stainless steel trellis, or opt for a more permanent structure such as a living wall featuring an assortment of plants and greenery. If you’re not sure which plants will work best, ask a local nursery or landscaper for recommendations. And, don’t be afraid to mix materials such as wood, corrugated metal and faux concrete.
3. Use the roof. The roof is a surprising and often overlooked area foroutdoor living. In cases where a portion of the roof is flat, consider creating a rooftop deck to expand the view like Steedle did for a recent tiny home project. It’s important to make sure the rooftop area is still able to shed water properly and that structures are anchored to the home’s flashing. In addition, keep in mind that access to the underlying roof is necessary for maintenance. For roofs without a flat surface, another way to extend the outdoor space is to add a wraparound porch or deck around a home’s perimeter.
As outdoor spaces make the transition from basic backyards and decks to cozy, inviting retreats, the design possibilities are truly endless. In addition to the suggestions above, cable rail can be paired with glass infill to extend views, or with panels constructed of stainless steel wire mesh or laser cut aluminum to add visual interest. In addition, architectural awnings can be incorporated to create stylish protection from the elements.
To learn how Feeney’s diverse product offering can help to create beautiful and functional outdoor spaces, visit www.feeneyinc.com.