Never has having outdoor space at home felt like such a necessity. Thanks to Colorado’s sunny climate, our al fresco areas have become the go-to venues for socializing, exercising, playing, and simply decompressing. “The outdoor room is not losing any momentum,” says Dan DeGrush, senior landscape architect for Lifescape Colorado, “but now, clients are exercising patience by building a project in phases, to make each phase exactly what they want.” (Think: higher-end finishes, nicer materials, and more expensive design elements installed in budget-friendly increments.) Here, DeGrush shares some ways to get the most fun and function out of your outdoor rooms—no matter the season—for many years to come.
1. Restaurant-Style Ambiance
Dining at home doesn’t have to be dull, says DeGrush, who takes a sensory approach to recreating a restaurant’s lively vibe on a patio: “It’s background sound from water features and music. It’s mood lighting—overhead bistro lights or up-lights on trees—that creates an inviting glow.”
2. Staycation Amenities
“If someone can sit in their backyard and it lives like a resort, that’s a win,” says DeGrush, who has been watching the demand for swimming pools steadily rise, even among homeowners with limited backyard space. (For these smaller properties, an 8-by-8-foot or 10-by-10-foot in-ground swim spa is a popular alternative, he says.)
3. Seasonal Functionality
Outdoor heaters are an easy upgrade that can make an outdoor escape more welcoming year-round. DeGrush’s tip: Skip the propane heat lamps, which just warm the air, and opt for infrared versions instead, which heat objects for longer-lasting warmth. And, as the days get shorter, outdoor lighting—ideally from multiple sources—is a must. “It adds a whole new dimension to the space and a more comfortable, luxurious feel,” DeGrush says. “It’s like going from cloth to leather seats in your car.”
4. Fun For The Whole Family
There’s a better way to keep little tykes moving than sanitizing every surface of the public park’s jungle gym. “For kids, we’re transforming empty yard corners with playhouses, mini patios, and fairy gardens,” DeGrush says. As for parental play time? “We’re seeing a lot of outdoor televisions and sound systems—clients want to invite neighbors over to watch a football game but don’t quite feel comfortable having them inside the house. These outdoor amenities help them stay social and safe.”
5. Spaced-Out Seating Areas
“Humans are meant to be together, and patios can help them do that at home,” says DeGrush, who recommends creating subtly subdivided seating areas that allow friends and family to connect at a safe distance. “You might have two or three people around a firepit, another two or three can gather around a table, and two or three more can be around a water feature.”
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