Living Outside the Box


I know what you are thinking…it’s too cold to think about creating an outdoor living space! But, believe it or not, this is the perfect time to get that ball rolling. The reality is that most any home improvement project, even when there’s no construction involved, takes on the average of 8-12 weeks. So, if you want to enjoy a new or updated outdoor area when the flowers are blooming, now is definitely the time!

Here, in North Carolina, we are blessed with weather that allows us to enjoy the outdoors for nine months out of the year. And, for those who often wish for a little more space in their house, creating an outdoor living area could be the perfect and most cost effective answer. For years now, the line between indoors and outdoors has diminished as the manufacturers of home products have developed more and more appliances, furniture, lighting and accessories that can be used outside.

Creating or renovating an outdoor space has many elements. Landscape design, stonework and carpentry, as well as furniture, lighting and accessories, are all critical components of designing your outdoor haven. The best way to get started is by gathering the family together and creating a wish list. As with any room, you need to know who is going to use the space and what activities will take place there.

Your outdoor space should accommodate all your needs throughout the year. Do you entertain outdoors? Make sure there will be enough seating for your larger parties. Do you spend time outdoors in the evenings and at night? Make sure you have adequate lighting and bug control included in your plan. Is the outdoor grill seasonal for you or all year round? How and when you use the grill will determine where you place the grill and whether it is under a protective roof. Do you plan to have your family meals outdoors often? If so, make sure that your dining area comfortably accommodates your family and then some.

Outdoor furniture and fabric have improved greatly over the last several years and are able to hold up nicely against the varying weather. Many pieces look just like indoor furniture but are constructed and designed to stand up to the North Eastern outdoor elements, if necessary. Thanks to the array of outdoor fabrics, the wonderful elements of throw pillows and even draperies can be included in the plan, giving your outdoor space a custom and cozy look.

And, be sure to consider lighting. It can be an important aspect in creating an inviting outdoor space that works at anytime. As more and more people move outside for their relaxation and socializing, companies work even harder to introduce products that make this possible. Lighting companies now offer an array of beautiful outdoor lighting, from lamps to overhead lighting.

Of course, don’t forget the more natural forms of light, such as tiki torches, portable fire pits and fireplaces. Lastly, consider adding an element of water. Even if your space and budget do not allow for a pool or anything substantial, add in some type of water accessory. You can choose from a wall mounted “waterfall” feature or use something as small as a tabletop fountain sculpture. It is the sound of water bubbling and flowing that is what creates an atmosphere of escape and relaxation.

If you remember all of the above elements, all that will be missing is your personal masseuse! This is a place for you to relax and where your family and friends will gather, share life and create memories!

By Anna Hastings