Spring is upon us and this is the time many Mercer Islanders start planning outdoor projects with a view towards spending summer days in their backyards. Some of us get creative with our existing yard and set up a wiffle ball net or pitch a tent on a warm night and go “camping” with the kids. Others go the extra step by recreating their outdoor space through custom landscape design.
Some ideas for making the most of what you’ve got include setting up a campfire, pitching a tent, and spending a night under the stars in your own backyard. This is a great way to introduce young kids to camping before a camping trip to the beach or the mountains. Another idea is to simply lay out a blanket and have a backyard picnic. It’s lovely to enjoy sandwiches and lemonade while lounging on the grass.
For those who are game for more permanent solutions, there are all kinds of projects that can transform a backyard from drab to fab. From fire pits to pickleball courts to outdoor theaters, there are a plethora of ways a backyard can become an extension of the interior living space, offering a welcoming change of scene and pace.
Sometimes making a change can seem difficult and may require some creative design work to pull off. For example, a steeply sloped backyard, or a lot where the home is sited with the front facing the sunny south may not present obvious opportunities for outdoor living. But just because the back yard isn’t very amenable to landscaping, it doesn’t mean the side yard or sunny front yard can’t fill the gap.
NW Lifestyle homes was presented with such a challenge and graciously overcame it by adding a covered patio with an outdoor fireplace to create a sheltered outdoor room off the side of a home, while also defining a generous sitting are in the front yard by adding a short wall that makes it clear this isn’t any ordinary front yard. By taking advantage of the best the lot had to offer, and thinking outside the box, the results from this project not only add wonderful curb appeal, but are also immensely livable all times of year.
Another common way to amp up the outdoors is to add an outdoor kitchen. This can be easily accomplished if you are already embarking on a kitchen remodel by incorporating fully opening windows to the kitchen plan. In this way, an internal kitchen does double duty by opening onto an outdoor bar and dining area that is serviced by the open air kitchen. Adding heat lamps and a built-in barbeque to the outdoor dining area extends both the utility of the space but also the seasons that it can serve.
In the Pacific Northwest, our wet weather doesn’t have to prevent us from spending time lounging and entertaining in our backyards. By adding a combination of open spaces to lounge in the sun, and covered spaces with heat lamps, fire pits, or fireplaces, we can enjoy the fresh air in complete comfort for most of the year.