If you live in certain parts of the country (here’s looking at you, Indiana), you’re familiar with terms like “two-season porch,” or “three-season deck.” We have accepted that, because of the tempestuous weather, ice, snow, rain, and mosquitos, our time outside is limited. It certainly makes for a long winter… and a short everything else!

But creating an outdoor living space for year-round use is not only possible, it’s a must for those who want to make the most of each moment – and each square foot – life has to offer.

Creating an Outdoor Living Space for Year-Round Use

You want to embrace every hint of breeze on those hot, humid summer evenings – and you want to soak up every ray of sunshine on our frigid winter days. There’s a lot of life to be lived in between the perfect (and oh-so-rare 75°and sunny with moderate humidity) days. Here’s how to enjoy each one:

Create a Seamless Transition Between Outdoors and In

Blur the lines between indoors and out; this allows you to utilize your space for maximum impact. Opting for large windows and glass doors, for example, makes the most of your natural light and views. Another “trick,” is to install the same type of flooring (or at least a similar style) in transition spaces, such as between your kitchen and deck. G&G owner Joe Garcia notes, “Homeowners want their outdoor space to be a reflection of their indoor style choices.” We’ve gone past the standard concrete pad to embrace luxe flooring and furnishings.

This gives the illusion that it is one continuous space – actually, it’s no illusion! It really does become one continuous, and harmonious, space that’s ready for anytime use.

Take it a step further by creating an outdoor room. Covering your porch or deck with a roof and installing beautiful floor-to-ceiling and/or retractable glass doors/walls will empower you to utilize your outdoor living space nearly year round.

 

Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Heat Nor Gloom of Night…

… Will prevent you from enjoying your outdoor space. Two- and three-season solutions are great. Nearly is fine. But we want to kick this into fourth season.

  • Cool/Cold Weather Solutions: An Indiana winter can bring temperatures in the single digits and below. And as we all know, the wind factor makes that feel just a bit chillier. Installing heaters in the ceilings and/or floors, fireplaces, and/or fire tables, as well as powered shades to block wind, will deliver 60° – 70° comfort. Joe says, “It’s great when it starts getting cooler to go outside. Turn on the football game, get the fireplace going, and relax. It’s nicer than being inside.” Agreed!
  • Warm/Hot Weather Solutions. We tend to think of winter as the biggest obstacle to year-round outdoor living but summer can be quite uncomfortable in its own right. We’re no strangers to humidity – or mosquitos and no-see-ums. Nothing ruins an evening faster than these unwanted “guests.” Ceiling fans, powered shades, water features, shade planting, and misting systems help beat the heat, but what do we do about the bugs?In the past, we’d use screens to protect us, but these were permanent. Exposure to the elements all day, every day meant they’d get dirty and damaged, and their dividers ruined the view. Fortunately, though, we can take advantage of powered screens. These can be raised or lowered as needed and, as they are available in sizes up to 20 feet wide, there are no pesky dividing lines to distract from your landscaping. As soon as you start to hear that springtime buzzing, lower the screens and set yourself up for a great season.
  • Year-Round Solutions: Lighting is, perhaps, the unsung hero of any outdoor living space, and it can be especially crucial when our days shorten to what feels like just a few hours. Not only does the right lighting create a beautiful ambience, it enhances safety year-round.

Landscaping is another area to consider when planning for all-year use. Installing native plants, shade trees/shrubs, and mosquito-repellent varieties (e.g. bee balm, sage, eucalyptus, garlic, lavender, basil, etc.) makes savoring outdoor time a breeze in the summer. In winter, strategically planted and positioned options (e.g. a hedge of low, thick evergreens, hollies, firs, etc.) can block wind and make your space more tolerable if it is open to the air. Landscaping – including container trees/shrubs) also makes the area much more visually interesting and inviting. Don’t neglect “form” when you’re thinking about “function”!

Bring Some of the Indoors Out

Some creature comforts can really elevate your outdoor space into a 12-month oasis. Outdoor kitchens, for example, are ideal no matter what time of year. In warm months, they’ll keep the heat out of your home – and set the scene for parties, gatherings, and get-togethers. In the winter, they can lure your outdoors and help maintain a comfortable temperature. Plus… s’mores and hot cocoa will always be near at hand.

Joe mentioned lighting up the fireplace and turning on the game. Which brings us to the integration of outdoor tech. Besides TVs, you might consider a sound system, smart appliances (like a smart fridge), remote heating/cooling features, remote-start gas fire pit, automatic roller shades, and other technology. Not only does this make the space usable all year, it makes it fun to use.

Don’t Get Left In In the Cold

Let’s face it: Sometimes – many times – what we really need in our busy, hectic lives is a bit of outdoor therapy. Seeing the gorgeous landscaping and views, smelling the flowers and burgers cooking on the grill, hearing the chirp of birds or the crackle of a fire, feeling the fresh air on our faces… and tasting said burger…is restorative, relaxing, and rewarding. Why shouldn’t you have the same opportunity in January as you do in July, in August as you do in April? When you plan an outdoor living space for year-round use, this is exactly what you’ll get.

Connect with G&G to talk about your vision. We want to make it a reality!