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outdoor living areas spaces

Unique Ways to Incorporate Outdoor Living Areas Into Your Home

By Tobias Roberts Rise Writer
Jul 20, 2020

The start of the school season can signal the beginning of the end of the summer. For many homeowners, the late summer and fall seasons are the absolute best times to spend time outdoors, soaking up the last weeks of warmth before the cold weather sets in. Maybe family vacations and other summer activities haven't allowed you to dedicate time to renovating your home's outdoor living spaces. If so, these projects can be completed on the weekend—and maybe in time for your Labor Day family get-together.

What Are The Benefits of Outside Living Areas?

Outdoor living spaces can increase your house's livable square footage for a fraction of the cost of building more space. Adding another room or addition to your home will require you to expand the roof, add insulation, walls, and everything else that goes into a home. In contrast, a new outdoor living area can be as simple (and inexpensive) as adding some natural stone flooring next to your back door, a 2x4 pergola at the entranceway to your home, or even a pop-up party tent underneath the weeping willow tree in your back yard. 

Outdoor living spaces increase the "livability" of any home. They allow us to get outside, interact with the natural world, and breathe fresh air. Even homes with the highest indoor air quality can't quite replicate the freshness of outside air. This is especially true if your home is located in a rural or semi-rural area or is surrounded by natural vegetation. Trees and plants act as a carbon sink to capture the excess carbon dioxide contributing to global warming. They take part in actively purify the air by absorbing air pollutants through air uptake in leaf stomata and intercepting airborne particles.

Biophilic architectural design operates under the assumption that human beings subconsciously seek a deeper connection to all that is alive and natural. While there are many ways to allow your home to "bring in" the natural world, there is no better way to experience nature than through being outside. The design and incorporation of several outdoor living areas force you out of the walls of your home. These areas produce physical and mental health benefits for all the house's inhabitants.

Backyard Cooking

Outdoor living areas will significantly increase your home's value by adding visible improvements to your property. There is a remarkable difference between a small patch of green grass and a living landscape incorporating natural rock pathways, a gazebo or pergola, and an open-air kitchen.

Here, we offer a few suggestions for creating outdoor living areas that are sustainably designed, aesthetically pleasing while resourcefully adding square footage to the living space of your home.

Brad Goodsell pergola
Photo Credit: Brad Goodsell

Salvaged Wood Pergola

The pergola is one of the most common and appreciated outdoor living areas. The overhead beams without a roof allow for an interesting mix of light and shade, and pergolas are lovely places for an outdoor dining room. The pergola structure enables you to plant climbing vines that offer a respite from the sun while embellishing your home with flowers and your favorite edible fruits. Some of the best climbing plants for a pergola include:

  • Passion vines, which offer delectable fruit and one of the most outstanding flowers
  • Bougainvilleas, which are available in a rainbow assortment of colors
  • Hops, which have unusual flower heads that can contribute to homebrew creations.

Adding a pergola outside a kitchen door allows you to have a simple outdoor dining room where you can enjoy the bulk of your summer meals. In addition, the pergola's simple structure makes it a great DIY project built using nothing but salvaged or reclaimed lumberVintage Timber is one national supplier offering a wide array of unique salvaged lumber, including petrified wood, reclaimed teak, and antique solid timbers. These options will allow you to construct a beautiful pergola from wood that would have otherwise ended up in the landfill. Adding sustainable outdoor furniture will allow you to turn your pergola into a multipurpose room.

outdoor kitchen

Outdoor Kitchen

An outdoor dining area might be as simple as putting up a table and some chairs; outdoor kitchens take the idea of outdoor living areas to a whole new level. While an outdoor kitchen will require a larger roofed area than what a pergola offers, it will allow you to experiment with various design ideas. If you envision having bonfires during the summers, building a fire pit and a wood-burning pizza oven is a great way to enjoy cooking outdoors. Even during the late autumn months, when evening temperatures get a bit chilly!

Ooni Pro Pizza Oven. Photo Credit: Ooni

The Ooni Pro Outdoor Stove is a relatively affordable and flexible outdoor stove. It has a quad-fuel function, meaning that it can run on wood, charcoal, wood pellets, or natural gas. This unique outdoor stove is completely portable. It can cook anything from wood-fired pizza to vegetable dishes to roasted fish. The Ooni Pro starts at $599 and is an easy way to create a completely functional outdoor kitchen. Ooni offers more affordable, portable options with single or dual fuel sources that start at $249.

clay construction outdoor living room
Photo Credit: Clay Construction

Backyard Living Room

Building an extensive roof for an extended patio or outdoor kitchen might be prohibitively expensive for people on a budget. Investing in costly outdoor kitchen equipment might even be above your budget. However, with a little bit of creativity, you can easily create a beautiful backyard living room for under $100.

Perhaps you have a large shade tree in your backyard but would like something a bit more "permanent" than a blanket for a makeshift picnic or place to relax and read a good book. In this case, used pallets are a great and affordable way to transform your backyard. For outdoor living spaces to feel authentic, creating a sense of enclosure or the usable space's beginning and the end is essential. Used wood pallets will raise a platform above your yard's grass and let people know the boundaries between the living space and the rest of the yard.

Wood pallets can often be found for free at lumberyards or even at your local hardware store. It is best to search for pallets that have the IPCC logo (International Plant Protection Convention). This marking will ensure that the pallets haven't been treated with methyl bromide, one of the most dangerous chemicals often used to treat wood.

Once you have created a raised platform, consider adding a couch or reclining patio chairs. Duck Covers offers heavy-duty, waterproof covers for all outdoor furniture types—meaning that you can go beyond those uncomfortable cast iron outdoor chairs. Consider adding some outdoor solar lights that will allow you to spend time outside even when the sun has gone down to use the space at night.

Outdoor Dining

These three simple ideas for outdoor living areas will help you inexpensively increase your home's square footage - while helping you enjoy the outdoors while summer lasts. Looking for more creative ways to design a functional outdoor space? Rise Founder and CEO Matt Daigle and 39 other experts shared their thoughts on outdoor kitchens.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2021-07-16T14:33:18+0000
Tobias Roberts

Article by:

Tobias Roberts

Tobias runs an agroecology farm and a natural building collective in the mountains of El Salvador. He specializes in earthen construction methods and uses permaculture design methods to integrate structures into the sustainability of the landscape.