Increasing Leisure at Home

by : Kevin Kling

In these days of questionable air travel, and continual news flashes of danger abounding, more people than ever are opting to stay at home for the vacation. To this end, there has been an enhancement in the way we furnish our outdoor areas.

Outdoor decks and patios are being transformed to incorporate larger and more luxurious cooking and eating areas, and the manufacturers are churning out the choices! Whereas we are all used to seeing the barbeque unit, a table and chairs and sometimes a fire pit, suddenly we are entering the era of the 'outdoor room' which contains all the luxuries of indoors!

There can be no doubt that an attractive outdoor area must increase the value of your home and make it a more desirable choice in the realty market. If you are planning to construct an outdoor living area, then some pre-planning on paper will point you in the right direction.

You will need to think of such things as placement of water supply, a walkway to and through the area. (For instance if your doors enter into the middle of your deck, you will want your patio seating to be grouped to one side of these doors, so that conversation is not interrupted by people walking back and forth to the house. You will need to think of the placement of your fireplace, and cabana, if you are having one. You will need to think about not obstructing the sunlight from the deck area or from the windows close by.

Will you have a spa, hot tub or shallow pool in the vicinity?

Many outdoor areas now have their own fridges and dishwashers and some even have their own fireplaces! The outdoors is an ideal setting for a see-through fireplace. With a see-through design, the diners can enjoy the warmth and blaze of a fire on chilly nights, while hot tubbers sitting away from the eating area can also the visual coziness of the firelight.

For a fireplace, the tall, terra cotta Mexican 'chimney pot' is also popular over here, although not see-through, it is a modestly priced way to introduce a fire outside.

A bar and bar stools are trendy if placed near the barbeque unit, perhaps giving a slightly more masculine feel to one end of the area. Many of the suppliers of patio furniture make great rattan 'fakes' that will weather the rain and wind, yet still look good.

Outdoor bars need not be expensive, they can be free standing, or you can construct your own 'built-in' bar. This will cut the cost and you can design the size to incorporate the fridge and a small sink underneath the bar counter-top and hidden from view.

Alternatively, some outdoor areas are now boasting their own dishwashers and full size sinks along with an al fresco cooking spot!

Having a cabana on your deck or patio area will mean that on hot days you will have sun shade; it also helps if you need some items to be kept out of the rain. Cabanas come in all shapes and sizes, and all manner of material. There are wooden ones with one or two walls and even canvas ones with no walls.

If you furnish your outdoor area lavishly, it could run upwards of $25,000.00; however, this type of expense need not be the case. A cocktail bar, and a modest fireplace with a cabana and some tasteful furniture could run you approximately $1,000.00 if you economize a little.

Imaginative, luxury touches will greatly increase the look of your outdoor area. For instance cabanas are enhanced by stringing a few lights around them - use amber or peach color to give a warm atmosphere.

A few tall plants in ceramic pots will go along way to making the area look luxurious, and grouping them around one corner of the cabana will make a great focal point.

Another inexpensive luxury touch will be one of those portable water features that is self-contained and continually rotates the same water around. The sound of gently cascading water is a known relaxant, so it will add a soothing ambiance to your peaceful area.