Many people think of home additions or renovations in terms of creating more indoor living space – a new bedroom, a remodeled master bath or even a sunroom. As summer gets into full swing, it’s a great time to envision how renovating or expanding living space outside can enhance your home.
Being outdoors allows you to experience all five senses in unique ways that you can’t always achieve inside. But despite what some may think, spending time outside doesn’t have to mean giving up the comforts of indoor living. Here’s how you can create an outdoor environment that’s both relaxing and entertaining.
Evaluating sight lines from various perspectives enables you to create a beautiful view, whether you’re indoors looking out toward the lake, or want an ability to keep an eye on guests or children at play. Lots of energy-efficient glass from windows and sliding doors will help achieve this goal. Don’t forget to evaluate other vantage points to ensure you’re maintaining a desired level of privacy. After all, the ability to have great views from your kitchen, great room or deck doesn’t mean you want passersby to have the same opportunities in reverse.
In addition to the overall view, there are ways to create visual, aesthetic patterns using paver patterns alternating with grass and gravel/pebbles, different colored tiles or even herringbone brick or outdoor rugs. Installing functional shaped zones can break up areas for seating and relaxing (think lounge chairs, hammocks, swings), from dining spaces and entertaining spots (for example, lawn games, a bar, poolside, outdoor TVs and fire features). Don’t forget about the ways well-placed lighting can elevate your space. String lights are all the patio rage these days and they do create a lovely effect, but sconces, posts and pathway lights bring a sense of elegance and allow flexibility for the mood you want to create.
Additional ways to break up space or create privacy include using vines, canvas shades, curtains, screens, fencing, landscaping and partitions in key spots. In fact, the natural topography of the lake can even aid in multi-tiered design that helps achieve privacy. An experienced design-remodeling professional can help map out a beautiful, private and functional outdoor living area.
Fully enjoying the sounds of nature, from the wind rustling the leaves to area wildlife, is impossible if noise pollution from the road or loud music from boaters or neighbors is a problem. While some noises are harder to eliminate than others, creating relaxing sensory sounds by installing water features like a small waterfall or recirculating “creek” can help. Outdoor speakers are always a great idea, whether it’s to mask unwanted noise or for your own entertainment.
While living on the lake, you may want to include landscaping that includes flowers or plants with scents – but not too overpowering. Also, consider smells when determining the placement of fire pits or fireplaces as well as grills or food prep areas. You’ll want these features placed far enough away from seating and dining areas, so they don’t overwhelm you or guests while relaxing.
Staying far enough away from smoke is one thing, but you still want convenience to amenities like food and drinks without having to go back inside repeatedly. Outdoor taps and refrigerators, as well as dry storage for certain sealed snack items are features to consider. And if you’re installing plumbing for a sink or food prep area, you might also include a garden water fountain for the grandchildren coming up from the lake or one to easily refill water bottles instead of stocking that fridge with single-use plastic which too often finds its way into our waterways.
While we all love the feel of a nice breeze off the lake, we are guaranteed to have more than our fair share of hot and humid days at the lakes of north Georgia. When adding cover for shade, consider durable fans (the type that will hold up to gusty winds and humidity) for those times when the air is stagnant, or the breeze just isn’t enough. Bonus: circulating air can help keep bugs at bay. Insect bites are the last sensations you want to feel when enjoying an evening outside. And if fire features aren’t a possibility or enough heat, outdoor heaters built into porch areas where people gather are convenient and an easy way to stay warm in colder weather.
Whether your project is large or small, options can seem endless, so working with a design-build firm can help you determine your priorities and build to your budget, giving you a space that fits your lifestyle for years to come.
Photo: courtesy Tracy Tesmer Design/Remodeling