Creating a beautiful outdoor living space is a wonderful way to enhance your family’s enjoyment of your home. However, it can be daunting and expensive to do it all at once. So how can you make it work? How can you build the space over time while still enjoying it?

It can be done! The first thing you’ll want to consider is how you’re going to use the space. Do you want to entertain out there? Have parties for family and friends? What kind of parties? Catered affairs or casual backyard barbeques? Do you simply want to provide privacy for your family? Grow a garden? How you want to use the space will inform the rest of the decisions you make when you’re planning the space.

Once you have an idea how you want to use the space, take measurements and sketch out some general details so you can plan the budget. You can’t do anything until you have a surface, so decide that first. Concrete and stone are popular options because of their weather-resistance and longevity, so consider them.  Concrete can be stained or stamped adding a cool texture/color element to the surface.  Get quotes from contractors so you know what you’re working with. The surface is one of the most important decisions you’re going to make, and it’s not easily replaceable, so spend as much of your budget here as you need to

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Other big (and not easily changed decisions), include the power, water and gas supply lines. What kind of power do you want to have? If you’re going to have lighting, retractable canopies, or certain cooking equipment, you’ll need a permanent power source. If you’re trying to save money, you can use a smaller outdoor power supply until you’re ready to do something more permanent, but you’ll want to know what you’re going for. For the water supply, the hose spigot will be fine temporarily, but if you think you’ll do a lot of entertaining or cooking out there, you’re better off planning and budgeting for an outdoor sink.  And if you are going to have a gas grill, consider having a gas line installed.  Nothing ruins a cook-out faster than learning all too late that the propane tank on your gas grill is near empty!!

Those are the elements you should plan to put most of your initial budget into. Other items can be purchased and installed as needed. Your privacy options, like the fence, can be part of the second wave of the work being done. And I’m sure I don’t need to say it, but be sure you check for any HOA rules about the fence height and materials you’re allowed to use to in your fencing. You don’t want to go to the trouble and expense of building a beautiful fence only to be told you didn’t follow the rules and must take it down.

Be sure to also consider how people will get into and out of your new outdoor living area. The back door of your house is an obvious solution, but will there be anything else? Any gates in your fence or side entrances?

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What about weather protection?  The most gorgeous outdoor area on earth won’t do you any good if you can’t ever use it because the sun is constantly frying your family, or a sudden thunderstorm sends your guests fleeing. Consider getting a retractable awning of some kind so you don’t have to depend on a random perfect day to enjoy the area you worked so hard to create.

Those are the big pieces of your outdoor living area. While you’re working on them, you can also be selecting and buying any of the decorations and furniture you’d like to have. This is a smaller piece of your budget and the pieces are replaceable, so you the decisions are less vital, but, really, this is the fun part! Make sure the pieces you select will fit into your area, but other than that, get whatever makes you happy.

With a little planning and a lot of work, you can create an outdoor living area your entire family will enjoy. And if you need some help planning it, just give us a call at Simply Stated Interiors!

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