Home harmonizing: Making outdoor entertaining areas as useful as indoors
The trend toward outdoor living spaces shows no signs of slowing, and the newest step in the trend is blurring the lines between outdoor and indoor spaces. Outdoor spaces are truly becoming an extension of indoors, mimicking the most useful and appealing elements of indoor spaces. The trend is rewriting how Americans construct, outfit and enjoy that backyard staple, the deck.
“The dividing line between indoor and outdoor living spaces is fading, and homeowners are looking for ways to make their outside environment as useful and comfortable as the inside of their homes,” says Chris Camfferman, senior product manager with Universal Forest Products, makers of Latitudes decking materials and accessories. “The trend is driving an evolution in deck styles and materials, with new designs emphasizing livability as much as durability.”
If you want to bring your outdoor and indoor spaces into alignment this summer, look to these areas of your outdoor living space:
* Outdoor kitchen – Food is a big part of entertaining, whether you’re hosting a big summer soiree to christen your new deck or an intimate pool-side dinner. Outdoor food prep and cooking require a touch more finessing than indoor cooking. Whether you use a portable grill or a built-in cooktop, gas or charcoal, it’s important that your decking can stand up to the rigors of cooking. Choose decking material that’s scratch- and stain-resistant, like Latitudes’ Captiva and Capricorn lines. Both composite lines are capped with the most durable polymer technology available, making them virtually impervious to stains from food spills, as well as highly resistant to damage from cooking implements. Log on to www.latitudesdeck.com to learn more.
* Entertainment areas – Long gone are the days when outdoor entertainment areas consisted of a table and deck chairs, period. Homeowners now want to enjoy the same types of amenities outdoors as they have indoors. For some, that includes a hot tub, and composite decking can provide a sturdy, barefoot-friendly and water-resistant platform for hot tub entertaining. Today, you can also use wireless technology outdoors. Wireless-equipped devices such as TVs and iPod stations make it easy to enjoy electronic entertainment – such as watching the big game or a romantic comedy – while savoring the fresh air and sunshine. Even easier –hang a bed sheet and use a movie projector to watch your favorite kid’s film or action flick, turning your deck into an outdoor movie theater.
* Furnishings – If your idea of outdoor seating is a few plastic Adirondack-style chairs and a plastic table, it’s time to look indoors for inspiration. The styles and materials you enjoy indoors are making their way into outdoor furniture design. Plush cushions in designer hues evoke the same comfort and style as fine upholstered furniture indoors. Demand is growing for built-ins that can fulfill seating and workspace needs. Composite decking material makes built-in benches both durable and beautiful. Homeowners are using furnishings and accessories to turn the decks into statements of their personal style.
* Decorator touches – Many of the decorator tricks that designers use to spice up the interior of homes are moving outdoors, too. Deck stains and exterior paints now come in vibrant colors – not just dirt-hiding browns. Composite decking is also popping with color, with hues that mimic some of the richest, most enticing tones found in natural woods. Lighting is another design element that’s no longer relegated to the realm of “utilitarian” in outdoor environments. Whether you opt for decorative sconces on exterior walls of your home, twinkling LED lights on a deck railing, or Tiffany-inspired solar-powered postcaps, lighting is an opportunity to make a design statement in your outdoor living space.
“For many Americans, outdoor living spaces have become every bit as important as indoors,” Camfferman says. “With advances in decking technology and outdoor decor, every homeowner can create an outdoor environment that’s as appealing and harmonious as the inside of their homes.”