By Eileen Wilson H2H
Forget the trip to Hawaii this summer. With homeowners creating their own backyard paradise, there’s no need to ever leave home.
“It has to do with the economy; with high gas prices and travel costs,” explained Tim Bell, general manager of Five Star Landscape in Folsom, California. “People are planning ‘staycations’ in their own backyards, and they know that since they might be in their home a little longer than they may have planned, they should enjoy it to the fullest.”
And with more options than ever, there’s plenty to enjoy in the backyard.
Outdoor living spaces offer an entirely new way to enjoy the home during deliciously warm months, and the outdoor kitchen tops many homeowners’ lists.
Must haves include the outdoor grill and plenty of seating.
“I’m seeing people include outdoor fire pits, which can include glass rock that turns different colors while a fire is burning – and the fire pit doubles as a seating area,” Bell said.
Circular seating and covered structures are popular, and homeowners are incorporating Tuscan themes, or building rough-hewn, wood-beam pergolas – an Old World effect.
While sights are important, homeowners shouldn’t forget sound when designing their backyard oasis.
“Water features are important – people love the sound of water, and they are creating sheer-descent backsplashes with sheeting water, water burbling from pots, or traditional waterfalls,” Bell said.
Creating a new outdoor family room is a popular choice, as well.
“They are extending the indoors to the outdoors,” Bell said.
Large patios, roofed with material to match the existing home’s roof and exterior is a popular choice, and homeowners are creating rooms that rival the nicest family room or game room.
“People are including ceiling fans, misting systems, built-in fireplaces, and even big-screen plasma televisions that can hang above the fireplace,” Bell said.
When it comes to outdoor media, sound is important, and homeowners are sparing no expense when incorporating stereo components for music and television.
“The speakers can be designed to look like the outdoor lights,” Bell said.
Homeowners are getting creative with surfaces for their outdoor living spaces, as well. Acid stained concrete countertops give a unique, mottled effect, and are extremely durable.
Bell explained that granite can be troublesome in outdoor spaces, as the stone doesn’t tolerate temperature changes as well as concrete, insofar as staying in place.
Homeowners are incorporating glass tiles into their outdoors spaces, as well, and including fun features like rope lighting set in to concrete counters, covered by sealant.
“It’s a really unique look,” Bell said.
Hot outdoor looks include natural stone facing, sculptured stone facing, and replacing the outdated gas grill with new top-of-the-line models that include their own halogen lighting and built-in thermometer.
“Fifteen years ago, most outdoor grill surrounds were done in brick, but not today,” Bell said. “If it’s been 15 years, it’s time to renovate your outdoor kitchen.”
The typical outdoor living space can start at a few thousand dollars, to the sky-is-the-limit.
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