Outdoor spaces offer true 'living experiences'

by RaeLynn Callaway

The days of a back porch, concrete patios and decks are gone.

Today’s outdoor spaces extend the home outside and create a living experience.

Many designers and contractors are integrating outdoor living areas into their new home designs. Designers are creating outdoor spaces that not only blend with the overall design but also accommodate the tastes and lifestyle of the homeowner. These outdoor areas reflect the flow and overall concept of the home. 

Many of these spaces feature stained, vaulted, tongue and groove ceilings with recessed lighting and oscillating fans. Tile, flagstone and stained concrete are often used on the floors while the outdoor fireplace and cooking center are created using rock and brick.

These open air spaces are roughly 19-by-19-feet and situated off the family room into the backyard. They normally include a cooking area with stainless grill and under counter refrigerator, an eating area and seating and conversation areas around the fireplace. Other amenities may include a pool, hot tub, screened areas, fire pit, flat screen TV and an all season half-bath.

Kenne and Cathy Ketcheside had a screened-in porch, but they were looking for more at their Conway home. They wanted an outdoor living space that extended beyond the house. They were looking for an area that would provide privacy and also suit them for outdoor entertaining. 

“We aren’t big cooks, but we wanted an area where we could grill out and entertain,” Cathy said. A pool wasn’t in the original plan for the home. “Once we decided on the pool, I was just thinking a square structure off to the side for entertaining,” Cathy said. “Once David, of Elms-Clowers Construction, got a hold of it, the entire area evolved into a beautiful space that really became unique to our style and taste.” 

They also created a water wall on the backside of the pool and added a hot tub. 

“Chris Olsen helped me with my landscape design, and Bob Douglas helped me pull everything together and create my seating areas,” Cathy added. “We are thrilled and so pleased with how it all turned out.”

Another homeowner in Conway had a similar vision for an outdoor space. They wanted the porch and living area to be screened and wrap the back of the house. “We wanted our area to serve both purposes – inside entertaining as well as out. We grill a lot, not just for entertaining. It made more sense for us to keep the grill close to the house instead of taking it out to the pool house.” 

Their screened living area includes a grill, flat screen TV and intimate seating around the beautiful stone fireplace. 

The pool is a freeform shape and includes several tanning ledges, a rock waterfall and a hot tub. The rock waterfall attached to the pool is a stunning feature. It is surrounded by a charming design of perennials and annuals that provide color all year round. David Bengtson and Doug McCall created beautiful banks of trees and flowers.

The landscaping doesn’t end at the house and pool area. It spills into the woods behind the house where winding paths were created and designed to add another layer of dimension to this already exquisite outdoor space. 

The pool house is also unique in that it was designed to blend in with the wooded area behind the house. It is positioned to get the morning sun but block the afternoon sun. It includes an open-air eating area, kitchen with raised bar and granite countertops, half-bath and outdoor shower.

Although the outdoor room concept started with high-end homes, it is now a growing and expected trend for most new home construction. The outdoor spaces that were once utilitarian are now true “living experiences.”