(StatePoint) Ready to step up your outdoor living experience this season? You’re not alone. Nearly 70 percent of design and build firms report an increased demand for outdoor living space, according to the American Institute of Architects.
When updating your outdoor living areas, focus on additions that stylishly and seamlessly blend your spaces together. Consider elements that accent your home decor, enhance comfort, create beauty and offer low-maintenance upkeep so you can kick back, relax and enjoy the space.
Here are two ideas for achieving these goals.
Fire features are the most popular outdoor design element, according to the American Society of Landscape Architects. This is understandable; outdoor fireplaces offer privacy, warmth and create a distinct focal point around which to gather when spending time outdoors. Outdoor fireplaces also offer a great return on investment: 90 percent of real estate agents say an outdoor fireplace increases a home’s value, according to a Houzz.com study.
One major consideration to keep in mind is the type of entertaining you want to do. Those who want the convenience of a gas fireplace may wish to consider the clean, modern lines and utility of a model such as the innovative and sleek Palazzo from Heat & Glo, which features an industry-first power screen that moves up and down at the touch of a button, allowing for an uninterrupted view of the flames. Marine-grade stainless steel ensures it maintains its luster and multi-colored LED lights shine through crushed glass.
Others may be looking for something a bit more nostalgic -- like the scent and crackle of smoldering pine to bring back great memories and set the tone for outdoor gatherings. One popular choice that can achieve that effect is the Longmire wood-burning fireplace from Heatilator, which has a clean, contemporary shape that features a drawbridge gate and hinged glass door to make loading wood and routine maintenance simple.
Add ease and charm to dining al fresco by creating an outdoor kitchen. These days, it’s possible to include many of the same amenities you would find in a traditional indoor kitchen -- from a working faucet and stovetop to even a dishwasher. If space or budget are limited, think about what features matter most to you and consider working with an architect to plan the most efficient and attractive layout. Architects can also serve as a great resource when it comes to building with materials that can withstand local weather.
Outdoor friendly lighting can help you keep up the culinary adventures, even after nightfall. And don’t forget, you’ll also want to make space for a bar. Frozen daiquiris, anyone?