1. Have a budget. According to Jerry Isenhour, Sr. of the Fire Place, Patio & Grill in Concord, NC, budget determines everything. “You can’t have champagne tastes and a beer budget. We sit down with our customers, they tell us what they want, and we help them meet that goal by showing them options as to what they can get for their money.” Mr. Isenhour says that most outdoor rooms cost between $5,000-$10,000, but $20,000 is not at all unusual. The cost of creating one can be added to most mortgage programs because they are seen as something that adds to property value.
- Decide where your outdoor space will be. “A lot of people think that they have to have a massive back yard to have an outdoor room, but that’s not true,” Mr. Isenhour says. “Any space is conducive to an outdoor room. We’ve worked with spaces as small as 10×10, including many newer homes’ with smaller yards. The outdoor room can become your entire back yard, if you want.”3. Decide how you will use your outdoor space. Ideally, it should reflect your personality and your needs. Will you use it year-round? Do you only want to cook, or do you want more elaborate entertaining options, such as a fireplace or swimming pool or hot tub? Do you have children, because that will affect how you will use your space. Do you want to block any views? Do you want to literally live outside? If so, then consider an outdoor bathroom with a shower, or an outdoor bedroom.4. Lighting is crucial. Time and money spent on appliances and other fun items won’t amount to much if you can’t see anything once the sun goes down.5. Design the space as you would your family room. Pay attention to the seating and traffic patterns.
6. Break it down. Because planning an outdoor room can be overwhelming, break down your thoughts by “zones.” For example, your primary zone should be next to your home and should include the appliances that may need access to your home. As you fan out into your yard, you can downscale if you want.
7. Keep in mind the proportion and scale. If you have a small yard, then you might want to focus on your must-haves.
8. Consider the types of appliances, flooring, cabinetry, and other items compared to your environment. For example, pressure-treated wood is especially critical in the warm and moist Florida climate, where very favorable conditions for wood deterioration take place.
9. Take a look at finished outdoor rooms, such as family and friends, and showrooms in retail outlets. What do you like and dislike about them?
10. Think about all of the products available, including appliances, flooring, landscaping, heating, and protective covering, and make a list of what you want. “Most people don’t have any idea as to the depth or design of an outdoor space,” Mr. Isenhour says. “It’s important to know what’s possible.”
Once you’ve decided upon your budget and how you will use your room, plan on construction to take anywhere from 3 days to 3 months. The length of time, of course, will depend upon how elaborate your outdoor room will be and what you’ve decided to include.
Ultimately, you’ll want to take your time planning it, since your outdoor room will be where you will spend much of your time for years to come.
How to Build a Personalized Outdoor Room
You may feel a little overwhelmed with the prospect of building your own outdoor living space. There is an array of outdoor appliances available, and the effort involved with constructing an outdoor room can become quite a challenge. But you don’t have to include every appliance or accessory to be satisfied with the final result.
“An outdoor room can be simple or quite elaborate,” says Leslie Wheeler, director of Communications for the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA) in Arlington, VA.
For example, a basic outdoor room would include a grill, table and chairs, lighting for night, and portable heating and would require an investment of about $2,000, says HPBA. If you want the ultimate outdoor oasis—including an in-ground pool and premium barbecue island—your project can get quite labor-intensive and expensive, running up to $50,000 or more.
A multi-year project may be the best plan of action. HPBA recommends gradually implementing a master plan, such as first getting the electrical system and plumbing in place. Current low-interest rates that are driving the remodeling trend are helpful in financing an ambitious design.
“It can evolve over several stages,” says Ms. Wheeler. “One can start with a grill, seating and a hearth product and grow to include a built-in island complete with refrigeration, wood-fired pizza oven, bug eliminator, and lighting.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of an outdoor room is that you can build it yourself. Appliances and accessories for your personalized space can be found at home improvement retailers, or you can order pieces directly from company Web sites or suppliers. Professional landscapers and contractors may be needed for more elaborate projects or for installing pools and hot tubs.
Remember, an outdoor room is an extension of your home and your personality. “It is a complete lifestyle experience and an expression of the style and taste of the homeowner, rather than just an afterthought,” says Jennifer King, public relations specialist with The Home Depot.
Let your imagination be your guide as you build your own outdoor living space. It will not only impress your friends but also provide a comforting haven where you and your family can get away from it all in your own backyard.
2) Components for a VALUE-PRICED Outdoor Room
3) Components for a MID-RANGE Outdoor Room