Some people think that winter is a time to stay inside, cozy up to a fire, and avoid the outdoors completely. But what about the beauty that comes with a New England winter? It’s undeniable! The snowfalls, while cold, create lightly covered tree tops that can glisten in the sunlight, and are meant to be admired and enjoyed.
Thankfully, there are some ways for you to take the comforts of indoors and bring them with you outside so that you and your family can enjoy all of the wonders of a lovely winter.
It’s not uncommon for people to have at least one room in their home they call the “living room”. In our designing stage, we have to go back to what those words actually mean, and why we call it that. Our living rooms tend to be the places where we spend most of our social, quality, family, and friend time. So when designing a space that will be your “outdoor living room,” you’ll want to consider what factors make up the one you already have inside.
What is it about your living room that makes it “livable”? Historically, it’s a fireplace near a table or comfortable seating that sits at the center of the design. The fire provides warmth, light, and a source of heat that can be used to cook meals. It’s no wonder why early settler Americans gravitated to spending most of their time in one central room as a family. It provided such a great place for interactions to happen over food, drink, and a warm atmosphere. Consider taking these elements with you into your outdoor space.
A Place For All Seasons
A space that can be used at any time of the year has to be able to adapt to changing weather patterns. Many of these spaces do a great job of featuring useful hardscapes among their backyard and front-yard landscaping designs. For example, a stone paved patio could have a trellis structure in the center to provide shade. This could then allow vines and flowers planted at its base to grow their beautiful blooms into the structure and provide another delightful visual boost to your outdoor space. By choosing features that add benefit to the space they take up, you’ll be able to get more use out of your yard.
In order to adapt to changing climate and weather conditions, many outdoor living space structures have removable windows that can be completely opened or adjusted with blinds. There may even be large doors or sky roofs designed into a space that can open up on a beautiful sunny day, but provide coverage if it begins to rain.
What you’re creating is a smart space because, with enough thought, it can adapt to the time of year or even the time of day. Your space should be a refuge for your guests no matter the season.
Ideas For Using The Space
Let your mind wander for a moment about the possibilities that hosting guests, or just enjoying the personal comforts of a “space for all seasons” can provide. From hosting dinner parties, birthdays, and holidays with family and friends, to sipping coffee in the morning, reading a good book, or taking a nap, the possibilities are endless.
You want to have certain features in the summer that provide shade, coverage from wind or rain, but create enough of an open design plan so you can still take advantage of the views around you. It’s also great to allow light breezes to flow through and natural light to fill the space on nice hot days. It could get so warm that you’ll want to install fans. The question is how you will winterize these things for colder times.
In the winter, the sun is still your friend. You should be able to batten down some of those hatches to secure warmth, allowing natural sunlight in. Using glass in your design of windows or any doors can be a great way to still see your views while creating a greenhouse/sunroom effect to warm you in the cold.
No matter what season it is, a fire pit is all you need to get cooking, roasting marshmallows, and enjoy the outdoors on cooler evenings. Fire pits are great, but a fireplace with a propane or natural gas burner built-in can remove unnecessary concerns that come with uncontrolled flames like smoke, or having to manually keep the fire fed alive. You can also design firewalls or gas inserts into your multi-seasonal space to add warmth, light, and atmosphere to your space.
When designing your outdoor living space, you could create a dining area with a table that can withstand all four seasons with a retractable roof above. This provides a place to eat, gather, and escape the cold while still enjoying the outdoors.
A grill is always something simple that gets a party going. How far you take the efforts with designing your grilling space is up to you. If you like to take your preparation of the meats and side dishes seriously, then design a space that is more than just a grilling area. Outdoor kitchens bring the work that can often go unnoticed in the kitchen out to the party. No more having to hide from the party while preparing the food. We all like to gather for a good meal, so a kitchen space outdoors with extensive or even quite simple amenities will keep the party going in one shared space.
Open Mind, Open Space
Don’t get hung up on the basics. This was just a start! The trick is keeping your mind open and getting as creative or customized as you want. You can always build a space without one intended use in mind, and then add awesome features as time goes on.