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3 Fresh Ideas for Outdoor Living Spaces


With winter in the rearview mirror, spring in the passenger seat and summer fast approaching, now is the time most homeowners really begin searching for ideas for outdoor living spaces. And never has living outside been more comfortable or convenient. Advancements in audiovisual technology, outdoor appliance quality and durable outdoor fabrics and furnishings mean that living outside is a lot like living inside — only without those pesky walls to block views, breezes and sunshine.

This week we searched through the outdoor photos that professional builders, architects and designers recently uploaded and found three spaces we wanted to learn more about. Here the designers dish on their plans of attack, “uh-oh” moments and more.

Designer: Vivian Mulder of Eberlein Design Consultants

Location: Philadelphia

Size: 1,600 square feet (148.6 square meters)

What wasn’t working: “The space had never been used before as a living area; it had only ever been a roof. The goal was to create a warm, inviting living space on a previously uninviting roof.”

Homeowners’ request: “Entertaining and lounging. There is an outdoor kitchen and dining area right next to this sitting area.”

Who uses it: “This deck was designed for a small family who loves to entertain. The homeowner has a chef who consulted with the design of the outdoor roof kitchen. They love to lounge and read, so the extra-deep (60- by 80-inch) sofas and giant shade umbrellas make the space extra comfortable.”

Plan of attack: “We consulted with the client on how the space needed to function and developed a furniture plan from there. Then we worked with the architect to select masonry and stone materials that worked with the overall vision for the space. The last step was selecting the actual furniture and fabrics.”

Designer secret: “Pay careful attention to the color of every finish and fabric for the most luxurious look. Make sure to choose hardier materials that can withstand the elements. Also, take the time to design a unique flooring pattern. There is no extra material cost, but it adds a custom feel.”

“Uh-oh” moment: “The client requested giant and heavy umbrellas and heat lamps after the deck was built and the furniture plan was in place. We will usually coordinate every detail and furnishing while the plans are being drawn. In this case we had to carefully research umbrellas and heat lamps on the market to find ones that would fit in the small space and provide shade where needed. The umbrellas also had to be heavy enough not to blow away on a windy day.”

Splurges and savings: “After splurging just about everywhere else, we saved on design time and money by specifying a ready-made water/fire feature.”

The nitty-gritty: Teak furniture: Summit; sofas: Walters Wicker; outdoor fabric: Giati; fireplace/water feature: Bull; quartzite floor tiles and outdoor cantilever umbrellas: Tuuci

Designer: Lee Buffington of Turf Tamer

Location: Fort Payne, Alabama

Size: A 34- by 28-foot pavilion (10.3 by 8.5 meters) with two adjoining patios that are 26 by 17 feet (7.9 by 5.1 meters) each

Homeowners’ request: “The main vision for the client was to have a space that could be used all year long, not just in the summer months.”

Plan of attack: “The first item on our agenda was determining how our client wanted to use the space that also included a drainage solution that complemented their plans. Connecting the pool, multiple entertaining spaces, transitional areas and significant grade changes were some of the challenges we faced during the design and implementation.”

Why it works: “The space was large enough to allow for us to achieve everything that they wanted to include in the project. The design offered covered patio space as well as open space for entertaining many guests throughout each season. The diversity in the pavers, borders and banding as well as stained concrete really brought the project to life.”

What wasn’t working: “The backyard space felt unfinished to the client and needed a design that would create continuity in the entertaining space.”

What goes on here: “Entertaining family and friends poolside during the summer months as well as hosting many events for close friends in the fall and spring. Ballgames in the fall are a huge hit for the owners.”

Who uses it: “Family, friends, kids and grandkids are among the primary group using the space. It also plays host to the occasional photo shoot for local and online publications. The owners are very active in the community and offer their time for charitable events and fundraising.”

Designer secret: “Creating an ambience using low-voltage LED lighting was the one task that brought it all together. This allows for automatically controlled lighting that is adjustable for lowering the lighting when desired. The structure is brought to life after dark with hidden light fixtures that only allow for the effects to be seen.”

Take-away: “Tendencies to find unexpected bumps in the road normally come from drainage or subsurface items found during the construction phases.”

The nitty-gritty: “A combination of Belgard Mega-Arbel and Belgard Urbana pavers were used for the project. Sizes and colors were blended to provide contrast and texture. Most of the stone was a natural stone stacked with a manufactured stone completing the fireplace. The lighting system is SPJ Lighting. Fence was a custom designed rough-sawn lumber that was left raw.”

Designers: Erik Mehlman of BuildSense (architect); Alys Protzman of Alys Design (interior designer and the home’s owner)

Location: Pittsboro, North Carolina

Size: About 550 square feet (51 square meters) of wraparound screened porch. It is 15 feet deep and 35 feet long on the south side, and 9 feet deep and 25 feet long on the east side.

Homeowners’ request: “The homeowners wanted to live outside,” Mehlman says. “The ample overhangs shield hot summer sun, yet the space is even utilized in the more mild Carolina winter due to the low winter sun. The entire porch is screened in a buggy climate, making it wonderful to throw open expansive doors to the porch and catch cross breezes without inviting in critters.”

Plan of attack: “The new porch areas face south and east to address the heart of the yard and an onsite pond, something the original porch failed to do.”

Why it works: “This home is not only designed for the immediate family but as a gathering place for holidays and other occasions for the extended family,” says Mehlman. “The porch is oversized both for the strong Southern character and to create multiple outdoor living zones immediately adjacent to the living room. When opening the multiple sets of double doors from the interior to exterior, the space flows together without interruption.”

“Aside from the new upholstery, the furnishings are a mix of items my husband and I have collected over time,” Protzman says. “I scored the vintage tobacco drying basket on the wall on Craiglist for $25. The black metal gliders were found at a flea market outside of Atlanta. Subdued blacks and grays were chosen so as to not distract from the incredible views into the yard. Ceiling fans, painted haint-blue ceiling, vintage industrial sconces and painted floors give the porch a Southern charm.”

What goes on here: Reading, playing, relaxing, socializing.

Designer secret: “Adding a rug to a covered-porch seating area does a great job of making the space more cozy and inviting,” Protzman says. “This rug is synthetic and can be hosed off when necessary.”

“Uh-oh” moment: “It was quite difficult to blend the new brick piers, perforated brick curtain wall, current-code floor structure, and current-code roof structure with structural elements from 1874, which do not meet today’s standards,” Mehlman says. “Creative solutions were required to assure the new structure visually matched the contiguous original structure. This would not have been easy on the fly. Careful investigation was conducted early to develop the proper plan.”

Splurges and savings: “Furnishings splurge: new upholstery,” Protzman says. “Whenever possible, invest in quality upholstery and fabrics. You get what you pay for [with] the seating pieces you use all the time. Furnishings save: all of my flea market finds.”

Take-away: “This addition has added incredible value to our home,” Protzman says. “We invested in a usable, family-oriented space that doubled the size of our living space and allows us to enjoy the best aspects of our property six months out of the year — without mosquitoes.”

The nitty-gritty: Floor paint: Ozark Shadows, Benjamin Moore; beadboard ceiling paint: Harbor Fog, Benjamin Moore; cable railing: Feeney; ceiling fan: Hunter Classic; wall sconces: Barn Light Electric; rocking chairs: Troutman Chair; wicker upholstery: Lloyd Flanders; rug: Crate & Barrel; hanging rattan swings: Serena & Lily; marble-top table: Alys Design; black metal gliders, pillows, tobacco basket and side tables: vintage


Source: Houzz


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