Outdoor rooms add area and allow a connection with the outdoors
Yards can be used as additional rooms (living, kitchen, dining, etc.), adding square feet, a connection to the outdoors and as an alternative to cranking up the air conditioner. No longer are yards solely the domain of grills and plastic chairs. Today, many are outfitted with ovens, refrigerators, lamps, heaters and sofas.
Think about the type of room you would like to add. What are your needs? Think beyond the grill. Outdoor rooms should reflect your lifestyle. How will it be used? Do you entertain a lot? Are you a red meat aficionado? Is pizza your thing? Will this outdoor space be used solely for lounging?
• The range of appliances available is enormous. Explore all of your options. An outdoor kitchen does not have to be limited to a grill and a fridge. Think about a warming drawer, beer dispenser, wood-fired pizza oven, sideburner, smoker, rotisserie, refreshment center or ice machine.
• While you can grill almost any day in some climates, outdoor kitchen appliances are typically only rated to 32 degrees F, so warranties become void in many states due to extreme temperatures, wind and moisture.
• The room/space should be protected by architectural elements such as overhangs and partially enclosed areas. Not that you will necessarily be entertaining outdoors in February, but it does not hurt to block wind and the occasional sprinkle of rain.
• Anything connected to plumbing will need to be winterized (disconnected, blown out and stored). This is a major consideration if you decide to add water lines for sinks, ice makers and more.
• Limit material choices to those that can survive being hosed down (think after-party clean up, mid-summer rainstorms and winter snow as well). Stainless steel, stone, pretreated and exotic woods and brick are perfect for storage and the structure itself. Think about materials that survive well in the climate in which you live.
• Use waterproof and fade-resistant materials for furnishings, cushions and rugs as well. It is better to invest in sturdy pieces rather than replacing them every other season.
• Lighting is crucial. Entertaining and cooking often occur in the transition time between day and night. Add direct lighting to shine on the grill and over the countertops. Consider ambient or mood lighting for seating areas. Many manufacturers make lamps specifically for outdoor spaces.
• Heaters and fireplaces extend the season and allow you to stay outside longer. To create a cozy gathering spot, consider a firepit. For heating and lighting, think about a heater/lamp, which can be used separately or together.