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Including the Outdoors in Home Remodeling

A backyard isn’t the same as it used to be – a place to grill, where kids play ball, or just an extra spot to mow. Now the trend is to make the backyard an outdoor retreat or an extension to the house.

As reported in the May 2006 Consumer Reports, designing and furnishing an outdoor room is the second most likely home-remodeling project to do. Specifically, approximately 1.2 million U.S. households will install a fully functional outdoor kitchen, according to a study by the industry research company inquiry.
In 2004, Better Homes and Gardens magazine received survey responses from nearly 60,000 Americans describing home improvement projects and future home-building aspirations. Better Homes and Gardens found that people want indoor/outdoor livability, technological innovations, flexibility for family needs and a kitchen-centric focus. (REMODELING Magazine, September 1, 2005)

Homeowners are seeking ways to make the outdoors a functional part of the living area. To accomplish that, the barriers between outdoors and indoors, such as walls and solid doors, are going away. As cited in “A Simple Way to Increase Outdoor Living Space” at HGPgal.com, for homeowners looking to add to their living space, improve their lifestyle and increase the resale value of their home, the perfect solution is to extend living areas outdoors through the addition of decks, patios, outdoor kitchens and entertainment areas.

“The line between the house and the outdoor space continues to disintegrate,” says Julie D. Taylor, author of Outdoor Rooms. “Many designers are using the same, or similar, materials both on the interior and exterior to extend the house to the outdoors. It breaks down the barrier and gives a feeling of a larger house.”

Alternatively, instead of thinking of the barriers disintegrating, another solution is effective indoor-outdoor connections. These connections can include French doors opening up onto a porch, or the addition of a window to expose a lovely view. Indoor-outdoor connections can be as simple as adding a mudroom between the garage and the home, or more complex, such as an outdoor entertainment area placed just outside the doors of a home’s main gathering space. Adding visual connections to the outdoors, such as through the addition of glass doors or enlarging a window, adds value to your home by making its interior space appear larger than it actually is. (“Connect Inside of Your House with the Beauty Outdoors,” Ann Robinson, Deseret News, April 2005)

To create the outdoor living space that you want, start by determining your budget and your desires.
Consumer Reports provides some tips about what to consider for building room extensions or outdoor entertainment areas:

* Determine how you will use your space
* Consider location
* Be sure to weatherproof
* Incorporate lighting and heat
* Consider safety

No matter what extension you decide to make, it will undoubtedly add value to your home. As cited by Ann Robinson in Deseret News, “Exterior living space adds usable square footage to your home without costing you the $120-plus per square foot you’d spend for the construction of an addition.”