Outdoor living has come a long way. Gone are the days of an 8-foot by 8-foot pad of cement out the back door or a little bit of decking to store the grill. To be clear, outdoor living is just that – traditional living spaces brought to the outdoors. The same amenities you find in a kitchen or living room are now integrated into your deck or patio and enjoyed outdoors.
While we see our fair share of snow in Colorado Springs, the climate in our community is uniquely positioned to suit many luxurious outdoor living spaces most of the year. Unlike the Northeast, our winters fluctuate between extremes and it’s not uncommon for 60-degree temperatures to be seen in December and January – perfect for a cozy sweater and gas firepit. And, unlike the Southwest where outdoor living became the trend, half of our year isn’t oppressed by sweltering heat.
One last thing to mention about outdoor living in Colorado Springs is that we have very few creepy-crawlies compared to most other places in the country. Unless you live next to standing water, pretty uncommon in our area, we are affected by very few mosquitos or blackflies. Luckily, our region isn’t really home to many obnoxious bugs – which makes outdoor living extremely pleasant.
Every outdoor living space need an abundance of power outlets, just like you’d find in any room of your home. Naturally, the need increases if you’re planning on building an outdoor kitchen or bar. From the convivence of charging a phone, running a blender, or powering a television – electricity is also important for lighting. Lighting is immensely important for outdoor living areas as these spaces are most often enjoyed in the evening. Wrapping the area with subtle LED’s for ambiance is a pro touch – but don’t forget about proper lighting around the grilling area. Nothing is more frustrating than burning the steaks because you can’t see.
Access to water plays an important role in outdoor living areas. Running water is absolutely necessary for outdoor kitchens and bars. Full sinks for food prep and making drinks transforms routine tasks – no more darting in and out of the house – and this helps include the host during social gatherings. Nearby faucets and spickets are also helpful for watering an array of potted plants and urban gardens. Maybe you’re considering an adjacent pool or hot tub? Beyond filling, easy access to water is essential for routine maintenance. It’s also important to note that these water systems should be properly insulated and winterized during the cold months.
Often overlooked, protection from the elements is key to comfortable outdoor living. This can be achieved through standard patio umbrellas, but fully finished pergolas and California awnings permanently finish outdoor living spaces. Not only are these structures stylish and provide functional protection, but they also serve as the frame for water and electrical systems. These structures allow the necessary components to be installed in your outdoor living space while protecting patio furniture and guests from UV rays and unexpected storms.
Along with providing shade, temperature control is vital to outdoor comfort. In Colorado Springs, this usually includes a warming element to ease brisk evening air. Gas and wood burning firepits are a communal focal point, but warm spots can also be achieved with umbrella heaters. For our folks on the south end of town or Pueblo, it’s not unreasonable to consider misters. Each summer, the Colorado Springs area will see several weeks touching 100 degrees. Arial misters are a fun way for the entire family to beat the heat. As you’ve observed, achieving outdoor comfort is a culmination of all the aspects mentioned above. When your outdoor living space utilizes the modern creature comforts of electricity, water, and shelter, it becomes a destination of the home. Likewise, if your outdoor living space hasn’t achieved comfort, it won’t be utilized.
As with most projects, you should build with purpose. Understand what it is that you want to achieve from your outdoor living space – perhaps it’s entertaining guests, masterful grilling and barbequing, epic corn-hole tournaments, or simply relaxing and enjoying a breathtaking view. Have a clear objective behind your build – and the type of entertainment you intend it to provide you and your family.
Fortunately, many of us in the Colorado Springs area are surrounded by natural beauty and have a gorgeous view of Pikes Peak. Outdoor living spaces offer a break from the norm, and can even provide a bit of solace. With that said, having some music flowing through your outdoor living space, or a nearby television is an amenity you never knew you needed. Streaming Netflix next to a firepit under the starry sky with a glass of wine in your hand is 21 Century revelation.
If this sounds like you, understand that implementing technology that is able to survive the elements requires a little more forethought. The same goes for creating space for backyard games – all of this akin to the same process and planning you’d do before buying a pool table or shuffleboard for your basement. To further maximize outdoor living spaces, hot tubs and pools provide additional hours of family entertainment. If done correctly, you can be catching snowflakes on your tongue from 102 degree hot tub in the winter, and cooling off in the same water during the summer.
Before embarking on your outdoor living build, be sure you’ve carefully considered these five elements. We recognize that people who overlook one of these vital areas don’t tend to use their deck or patio as often as people who do. We’ve become accustomed to modern conveniences and if these elements are missing from your outdoor living area, people just won’t use them and opt for the indoors. If you need help designing your perfect patio or deck, give us a call and one of our Project Managers will assist you with the industry’s best practices.