porch with gazebo sewell new jersey

Creating an Outdoor Living Space: Do’s and Don’ts

“Outdoor living space” has become the new buzz phrase in home and garden. It’s not that decks have gone the way of the dinosaurs. Or that porches and patios are passé. It’s just that homeowners have begun to expect a little more from their outdoors. Instead of seeing a lawn to mow or a deck to seal, they’re seeing opportunities to extend the utility and functionality of their indoor spaces into a seamless whole. 

Of course, there are subtleties to creating an outdoor living space that truly checks all the boxes. This month we’ll share some of the secrets to success, along with a few missteps to avoid.

Do: Consider usage

Before you can create your outdoor living space, you must first conceive your outdoor living space. It helps some people to visualize an outdoor room as they would an equivalent indoor room (e.g., an outdoor living room, outdoor kitchen, or outdoor sports bar).  A few major points to ponder:

  • What will it be used for? Entertaining? Relaxing? Your approach to things like location, features, privacy, and decor could be a lot different depending on the answer.
  • Who will be using it? Kids? Adults? Pets? All of the above?
  • How many will be using it at any given time? Do you regularly host big house parties, or would a smaller space for more intimate gatherings do?

Don’t: Neglect your surroundings

Your surroundings are absolutely critical when planning an outdoor living space. Pay particular attention to things like sun exposure, prevailing wind direction, sightlines both looking outward (ambiance) and inward (privacy), and grade — just like indoor rooms, outdoor rooms should be built on a level surface. And definitely do not overlook accessibility. For example, if you’re planning an outdoor kitchen, it’s advisable to be adjacent to your indoor kitchen to easily shuttle things back and forth.

mullica hill new jersey exterior trim improvements

Do: Incorporate vertical elements

Walls — or at least the suggestion of walls — help define the boundaries of an outdoor living space and create the sense of being in a room. Vertical elements such as hedges, trellises, curtains, or sliding doors can serve as capable substitutes if you cannot go the full brick and mortar route. 

Don’t: Completely close yourself off

On the flip side, closing off an outdoor room too much can seriously detract from its unique appeal. You’ll want to maintain some degree of openness to enjoy all that natural light and fresh air; otherwise, you’d be better off considering a home addition. Opt for a roof overhang, pergola, or other shade structure to keep the space nice and breathable. If you like the idea of a hybrid outdoor-indoor living space, Eze Breeze Enclosure systems are a beautiful and incredibly versatile middle ground that has proven immensely popular with Ayars customers over the years.

Do: Add visual interest and enhance atmosphere

Just like your favorite indoor hangout spots, your outdoor oasis or party zone can seriously benefit from some visual interest. There are all sorts of ways to enhance atmosphere, from landscaping to furnishings to lighting to artwork and decorations. Again, the layout and intended purpose of the space should dictate those decisions. 

For example, you might incorporate a fire feature — such as a fire pit or outdoor fireplace — to cozy up and bring people together when the temperatures drop after sundown. Alternatively, you might employ a water feature — such as a fountain or waterfall — to help you relax and get away from the crowd.

Don’t: Overwhelm

Conversely, there is such a thing as trying to do too much with a space. If it’s intended to be multipurpose, it may behoove you to visually divide the space up, whether that’s by varying surfaces, tiering or gating off sections, playing with furniture groupings, or using structural elements like a canopy or overhang to designate. 

Lighting can also be used to give visual cues about how an outdoor living space should be utilized and maneuvered through — but pay attention to placement and intensity. String lights are a tried-and-true, minimal-fuss solution for atmospheric lighting, as are LED-based candles and lanterns (of course, you could opt for the old-fashioned versions instead). Pendant lights and sconces are great for more sheltered areas, while low-voltage landscaping lighting is great for highlighting trees and other features in your backyard background. 

Do: Work with Ayars

Looking to tie your inside and outside worlds together? Definitely do talk to Ayars Complete Home Improvements about how you might make the most of South Jersey’s best months.

Deptford, New jersey Deck

Deck Design: 3 Things to Keep in Mind

Design a Deck That Tells The Right Story

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard to work with, you’re capable of planning a new deck to go with it. A beautifully designed, sturdily constructed new deck can greatly enhance the value of your home and your enjoyment of the warmer months. Before you build a deck, however, it is vital that the deck’s design frame your property and the surroundings in the best possible light. The features, styles, and materials of the new deck construction will be in part defined by your imagination, and in part defined by the lay of the land and what’s around you. It should be an organic extension of your home that meshes seamlessly with the environment.

At Ayars Complete Home Improvements, we collaborate with you to build a deck that is both beautiful and functional — a bona fide outdoor living space that not just an accent to your home, but a highlight.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when planning your new deck design.

Deptford, New Jersey Deck
New Deck – Deptford, New jersey

1. Deck Elevation

The elevation changes (or lack thereof) in your yard are the first major consideration when planning your new deck design. For level lots, especially those harboring a single-story home, we recommend a platform deck. Since platform decks are built so close to the ground, waterproofing is mandatory to preserve their look and integrity for years to come. The plastic decking products offered by Ayars are ideal for moisture resistance.

If “flat” doesn’t describe where you’re at, you’ll likely consider a raised or multilevel deck. A first-story raised deck is supported by foundation posts and is usually the solution for yards with steeper grades. Its second-story counterpart will usually require additional bracing and support.

Stairs and railings are not only important deck design elements but safety elements as well.

The multilevel deck is ideal for more gradual slopes, as the various tiers can follow the landscape. Each tier can be specialized according to purpose, making multilevel decks also multifunctional.

Pilesgrove, New Jersey Deck
New Deck – Pilesgrove, New Jersey

2. Purpose

Beyond what the topography of your yard dictates, you’ll also need to consider what you’ll be using your new deck for. If you plan on hosting large cookouts or get-togethers, you’ll want access to the kitchen and ample space to stretch your grillmaster muscle. If you’re planning on using it for meditation or relaxation, a shaded pergola or gazebo integrated with some landscaping may induce just the right mood.

If your new deck is designed with multiple levels, you’ll want to place visual indicators to assert each one’s unique personality and identity.

Mullica Hill, New Jersey Deck
New Deck – Mullica Hill, New Jersey

3. Climate and Lighting

A beautiful design and sturdy construction mean nothing if your new deck is not a safe and comfortable outdoor living space for you to be in. Be aware of your deck’s positioning in relation to the sun — a covering may be needed to provide proper shading (as well as extend use for rainy days).

If you intend to host many late gatherings and soirees, well-lit stairs, railings, and pathways can keep the party going deep into the night.

Free Deck Estimate from Ayars

If you’re interested in expanding your outdoor living space, contact the Ayars team to get started with a free deck construction estimate. We can help fix up or rebuild existing decks or completely design and build a brand new deck for your home.

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