An outdoor living space essentially adds square footage to your home. It’s great for parties, special occasions, quality time with your friends and family, or a quiet night under the stars.
How do you design an outdoor living area? Well, start with how much space you have and how you’d like to be able to use it. Are you the house that usually hosts occasions and birthday parties or have you always wanted to be the go-to party house? While you’re planning your custom outdoor living space, be careful to avoid these design mistakes.
1. An Inconvenient or Useless Outdoor Kitchen & Bar
Building an outdoor kitchen and bar can be very exciting, as long as you plan your kitchen to you and your family’s needs. Following a standard outdoor kitchen construction plan could work, but it’s best to consider exactly how you’d like to use the area to avoid a space being underused or feeling frustrated by the inconvenience it could cause when you’d like to enjoy outdoor cooking.
First, think about placement. Will the kitchen be built off of your living room, your indoor kitchen, or elsewhere? What kind of storage should you plan for to make food prep and service more convenient? If running back and forth to your main kitchen is too much trouble, consider including a minifridge, an ice maker, and secure dry storage in your outdoor kitchen.
A bar area is great for hanging out, using as a surface for food, or a beverage station that’s out of the way of the kitchen area. However, if the bar isn’t equipped in a way that would make it useful, it might end up a de facto storage space. This might be a better spot for an ice maker but also include closed dry storage here for drinks, mixers, and drinkware.
An important note is to also make sure to have lots of lighting. You’ll likely want to use this space after dark; and just as you wouldn’t cook indoors with the lights off, you’ll want sufficient lighting for your outdoor kitchen as well.
2. Bad Placement of Your Pool Area
A pool is a great idea to escape the summer heat and to entertain friends and family. However, a pool isn’t something you’ll use all the time or year-round. When the pool isn’t in use, you don’t want it to be a safety hazard or simply in the way.
Plan for the pool to be in an area where there won’t be foot traffic or outdoor activities. Perhaps you can use a lounge area or strategic landscaping to keep the pool somewhat separated from activities that don’t include taking a dip. Splashing or tracking water into a space where there could be a slip hazard or just an annoyance is avoidable with proper planning for your backyard layout.
3. A Porch You Can’t Use
A porch is great for enjoying the outdoors without being bothered by the sun or rain. Aside from having a shelter overhead, though, a porch can be so much more. A screened-in porch, for example, can also shield you from insects, making the space that much more comfortable. What if it’s too hot or too cold? Unless the weather is enjoyable, a standard open-air porch won’t get much use.
To get the most use out of your porch, consider more amenities that would make it comfortable for less-than-perfect weather. A fireplace, ceiling fans for circulation, heavy canvas curtains to block excess sunlight, and another wall to reduce frigid gusts, are just some of the features you could use to make your porch more weather tolerant.
In addition to its features, the layout and square footage of your porch will determine your use of this outdoor living space. If your porch is on the small side but you’d like to entertain several people on a regular basis, you’ll likely end up crowding your space with too much furniture. Work with your designer to calculate how much square footage you should plan for depending on the number of people you’d expect to entertain.
Aside from comfort and space, make this outdoor living space dynamic. Instead of planning for a singular lounge area, also plan for outdoor dining space, space for potted plants, and additional room for egress.
4. Lounging Patio Area Is Too Small
When you’re planning your custom outdoor patio, be sure to also plan for the furniture you’d like to see in the space and how much furniture. It helps to do a little in-person window shopping, taking measurements, and considering how many people might use the patio at one time. Too much patio furniture and the space will be crowded; too little, and not everyone will have a spot to sit.
In addition to seating, plan for a fire pit, whether it’s bought or built-in. It’s a great way to enjoy your outdoor space in the cooler months or to add ambiance during any time of year.
When it comes to a fire pit, though, you will need to think about the placement of your patio and how close it is to your home. Obviously, if your fire pit is too close to your house, trees, or other structures, it could be very dangerous.
5. Too Much Maintenance
Finally, all of this outdoor living and entertainment space is wonderful, as long as you can easily maintain it. Mold or algae build-up on your porch, patio, or other wooden surfaces can cause slips, falls, and deterioration. Outdoor chair cushions can become dirty and unusable. Your outdoor kitchen appliances could go into disrepair and be expensive to replace.
Make sure that when you’re talking to your designer or home builder about your outdoor living goals, you’re also talking about what it will take to maintain your outdoor space. If it sounds like a lot of work that would just be too much to stay on top of, then cutting out the features that are at the bottom of the must-have list might be in order.
6. Not Hiring a Custom Builder That Has Experience Building Outdoor Living Spaces
An outdoor living space can be a really great asset to your custom home and quality of life. However, if it’s not planned out properly, it can be inconvenient or too much work. Work with a custom home builder that will listen to your design goals and be able to give insight and expertise to design and build the outdoor space that’s perfect for you and your family.
Derrick Custom Homes is a custom home builder with a proven track record of centering our clients' needs and delivering homes that suit our client’s lifestyles and life goals. Contact Derrick Custom Homes to schedule a consultation and discuss your outdoor living dreams.