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Expand Your Home – Create an Outdoor Living Space

Spring is finally in the air! Coming out of hibernation from a cold and icy winter, my thoughts are on spending more time in the backyard again. If yours are too – then check out these ideas for making your outdoor living space more usable this year.

Extend your living space

Use the outdoor space to extend your family’s living space. Use  a defined space or elevation to set a “room” apart from the rest of the backyard. Let foliage, stone walls, deck railings or mature trees simulate walls. Once you create the concept of the outdoor room, add functional, practical  furniture – the type that makes you want to just plop yourself down and stay for the rest of the day. Gone are plastic chairs and picnic tables of splintering wood – replaced by comfortable outdoor sofas, easy chairs, and elegant dining sets. You and your family will want to stay outdoors all day. And to make it weather-proof, consider installing a retractable awning or a pergola. If space allows include an outdoor kitchen with barbecue. preparation counters and a clean-up  sink.

Extend your day

The enjoyment in your new outdoor space can be prolonged when you install lighting in the backyard. The lighting – whether solar-based or wired  – should be subtle, installed under steps or in walls. Lighting should provide safety, and also set a romantic mood for those nights when the moon is not full. Lighting can sometimes be incorporated into a water feature – which will add a Zen-quality to the backyard. Running water is peaceful and soothing, especially in the evening air. Use candles or lanterns to To add even more romance.

Extend your fun

Make your yard as low maintenance as possible so that you have more time to sit back and relax on that sofa. Low maintenance starts with your choice of materials for decking or flooring. However it should apply to all aspects of the backyard, including your choice of horticultural materials. Decorative stones or mulches in the garden will decrease the time spent weeding and reduce the amount of water required for the plants. Ornamental grasses, slow-growing shrubs, and native plants will cut down on maintenance as well as the need for watering. Planting in pots will give patios a sense of color with less work than a full garden. Be environmentally conscious when choosing the materials and plants for your backyard. Select modern and minimalist building materials to create a Zen atmosphere.

Spring is a good time to modernize your look

Consider your outdoor space as an integral part of your living space. Be modern, be creative, be innovative. Use color to create a new look or add more drama. This can be done simply with a few colorful pots, toss cushions or lanterns. In even the smallest of inner-city gardens, you can create a comfortable outdoor space for family and friends to relax and enjoy the Zen of being outside.

TIP: Check out these  5 trends that you can use to update an old patio and make it more livable (or saleable, if you’re putting your home on the market anytime soon).

What are your plans for your backyard this Spring? What is the most important part of your outdoor space: an eating area for family and friends; a spot where you can kick back and read a book; or a place where the kids can run and jump?

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