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Outdoor Living Spaces

Mar 09, 2010 02:56AM ● Published by Erin Frisch

Outdoor Living Spaces

Make the living area outside your home as stylish as the inside

The economy of the past few years has introduced the “staycation” trend, and this year, designers are eager to give homeowners more ways to make at-home leisure a destination. The current trend has homeowners creating lush, relaxing, resort-like exteriors furnished with outdoor all-weather furniture, high performance outdoor flat screen televisions, fashionable accessories and rugs, pro-level outdoor kitchens, and outdoor lighting, all of which rival indoor furnishings for beauty and functionality. Besides furniture and outdoor kitchens, the trend encompasses outdoor fireplaces, water features, rock and container gardens, and innovative planters.

Customization is key when planning an outdoor living space. You’ll want to create an environment that is comfortable, inviting, and geared toward your personal needs. Options to consider may include an outdoor kitchen, a dining space, a place to sit and relax, a meditation garden, or a play area. Since you’ll want landscaping to complement your project, you may want to consider adding or modifying various hardscape elements, such as a stone wall, terraces, or a walkway.

Hottest New Trends

Staying home more means homeowners are spending more money on improving their surroundings. People are going all-out with popular new additions to their outdoor spaces:

  • Built-in gas grills are hugely popular. Instead of a freestanding grill that looks bulky and out of place, homeowners can purchase built-in grill units from manufacturers like Viking, Weber, and Wolf, to name a few. These units slide into a brick or stone surround that has been built into the architecture of the home and become a more elegant alternative.
  • Flat screen LDC televisions are now available with outdoor all-weather technology designed to protect the inner workings from water and overheating. They can be mounted on a wall, a pole, or any method that is appropriate for a typical interior flat screen TV.
  • An outdoor billiard table with a genuine slate playfield so you’ll still experience great play. The table cloth is an acrylic fiber with water and UV resistant characteristics. The cloth will not only repel water, it is designed to retain its color and resist mildew and rot for up to 5 years. The exterior frame looks like cedar but is actually a high tech composite material.
  • Portable outdoor putting greens that are durable and weather-resistant, UV protected, and color safe. The greens are constructed of professional quality turf and retain their play in any kind of weather while the panels are simple to assemble and disassemble for storage. These greens come in a variety of sizes and shapes for any level player.
  • Green, energy-saving products are all the buzz. LED lighting, an ultra energy-efficient light source, uses 75 percent less electricity than typical incandescent lighting products. With this in mind, lighting companies are offering a variety of outdoor LED fixtures, including LED deck lights, step lights, path lights, and accent lights to ensure every area of the landscape can be illuminated efficiently. Outdoor lighting is a great “extender,” permitting you to enjoy your outdoor spaces under the stars.
  • Fans and lamps designed for exterior use in a variety of trendy and attractive styles. These days, some fans even feature built-in lighting.
  • Outdoor fireplaces, electric heaters, and gas heaters are accessories that will keep you warm through late fall and allow you to resume your pursuits in early spring, extending your use of outdoor spaces, even in New England.
  • Standing lighted planters spread beautiful shadows on path and patio surfaces and wall-mounted planters spotlight flowers at eye level.
  • HOT TIP: Slate has long been used in outdoor pathways and walkways. Now, slate and other natural materials are being incorporated into other outdoor elements, such as outdoor furniture and landscape lighting fixtures. Popular this year are mission-style path lights that combine the richness of mission esthetics with the beauty of natural slate.

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