Outdoor Living

Outdoor living in the Midwest is mostly limited to the all-too-short summer season.  There isn’t much that can be done about the climate, but there are ways to modify your home to extend the time you can enjoy the outdoors.

Covered outdoor living areas, in the new home market, have been increasing in popularity for the last several years. What’s old is new again.  The covered , wrap-around porch from the Victorian era has returned as a backyard amenity.  This reinterpreted feature has begun to make its way into the remodeling market as well.  The shade and protection of a roof over an existing patio or wood deck allows these outdoor areas to be used in excessively hot or rainy weather.  The addition of any of the following can allow your outdoor living area to become a true 3-season living area:

  • Outdoor fireplace – whether masonry or manufactured, a fireplace can provide the heat source to allow outdoor living earlier in the spring and later into the fall
  •  Summer Kitchen – the addition of countertops, cabinetry, electrical outlets, a sink and perhaps an undercounter refrigerator will turn the lowly barbecue grill into full kitchen.  Outdoor cooking during the hottest months can save on air-conditioning costs as well.  Some high-end kitchens may also feature pizza ovens
  • Ceiling fans – these add comfort for the hottest days
  • Lighting and music – these features makes evening use more practical and enjoyable
  • LCD television – today’s models have a much wider range of operating temperatures.  Your covered outdoor patio can become a cigar friendly, football viewing venue
  • Comfortable outdoor furniture – the development of new fabrics that are outdoor friendly has greatly expanded the choices in outdoor furniture

Installing a roof over an existing patio can add valuable living space to your home at a very modest cost when compared to the cost of adding a heated and cooled family room.  If you are contemplating this type of remodeling project it is important to consider the following:

  • Do you have room on your lot?  Check with your local building department and your homeowners association
  • How should the outdoor room be integrated into the existing home?  Your builder or remodeler can help with this
  • How much privacy do you want or need?  The use of landscaping can provide privacy without disturbing the natural air flow needed for summer comfort.
  • Do you want to have your outdoor room screened?

The addition of an outdoor covered room can add value and livability to your home.  This kind of a project can be accomplished over an extended period of time by adding features as you can afford them.  Once you have a roof in place, many of the upgrades are relatively simple projects for the do-it-yourself homeowner.  Go for it!

Additional resources:
Pottery Barn Outdoor Furniture

MirageVision Outdoor Televisions

Kalamazoo Outdoor Kitchens

Atlantis Outdoor Kitchens

Heatnglo Outdoor Fireplaces

Majestic Outdoor Fireplaces


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