Friday, February 19, 2016

Outdoor Living Spaces: Part 1

Outdoor living spaces are very important to many homes in any climate. Now that it's getting toward the end of winter, and we've been stuck inside, I thought it would be fun to dare to dream about going outside to sit, read, gaze, eat, drink, and socialize again once the weather turns warm.

Pergola over Western facing deck provides some much needed afternoon shade

Outdoor spaces can allow the finished square-footage of a home to be smaller, by giving additional "rooms" - outdoor living spaces- to be used when the weather allows. Let's look at a few decks on project's I've done. Decks are the simplest outdoor space- usually made of wood (or some high-tech/ synthetic material that requires less maintenance than wood) and usually accessed by glass doors from inside, it's basically a floor for outdoor furniture and an extension of the rooms inside.

Low Deck faces west/river view and connects kitchen to yard
 Decks can have a less-confined feel when they are able to be low enough to the ground that they don't require a guard rail to meet the building code. (sometimes in this case, I advocate a stone or paved patio instead of a wood framed deck...) But even when the floor is raised high above the ground, or the exterior deck or balcony is for a second floor space, and a railing is required, decks can offer views, light, and the ability to get outside from inside - even if there is a flight of steps to reach the grass below.
Raised Deck w/ guardrail offers a view, but not an easy connection to the ground
Doors to kitchen open onto a deck for easy meals outside
A cable system guard rail can be used instead of a solid wood balusters to meet the code for a guard rail without obscuring the view. And a patio can be added at the bottom of the deck steps to continue the layers of spaces between inside and out.

Second floor balconies have a special charm, because we usually can't get outside from the upper level. Off a master bedroom, it can be really unique and luxurious to add a private outdoor space; with the side affect that adding a glass door to a bedroom (larger than a window, typically) brings in more sunlight and views for that bedroom.
Balcony for Master Bedroom above existing porch


  1. I love second story balconies. The last one -- the red house -- what a difference that makes. Really beautiful Christie.