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5 Outdoor Living Features that Enhance Your Property & Lifestyle

For many of us our home has become a multifunctional dwelling. With COVID restrictions and changes in the work from home lifestyle, a home now serves as an office, daycare, park with recreation, entertainment domain and staycation resort, if possible. As a designer, I’m frequently asked, “How do we make our backyard more usable and at the same time beautiful, like a resort?”

Here, we outline top five elements that turn your outdoor living space from average to resort you don’t want to leave.

1.     Outdoor Kitchen

There’s a saying, “The kitchen is the heart of the home.” The same is true for an outdoor kitchen. An outdoor barbecue island with countertop space, perhaps an extended bar with seating, can be a place to gather and hang out. What makes an outdoor kitchen inviting is the layout in relationship to the rest of the outdoor dining area, the shade over the people sitting at the bar and the griller, and the ancillary that goes inside the structure.

When we design an outdoor kitchen, we consider different kitchen layouts and sizes. Some homeowners like to entertain and gather around the island while cooking, and others prefer to have a catering experience sans bar and with long countertops to lay out the food and then gather around the dining table for conversations.

2.     Fire Feature

Once the bellies are full with all the deliciousness cooked at the grill, the conversations can transition to a more relaxed setting by the fire. There’s something special about sitting by the fire, catching up on life and having meaningful, connecting conversations.

3.     Pergola

When you really want to make your outside living space feel like a room, adding a pergola does the trick. A pergola provides shade and cools the inside of the house if your windows get direct sunlight in the burning afternoon sun. There are varieties of pergola styles and materials, including modern or traditional looks, aluminum or wood, attached to the house or freestanding further in the backyard. All have their own charm and function that enhance the outdoor living experience.

4.     Water Feature

There’s something comforting about the sound of running water. Since ancient times, it’s been a luxury to have a fountain or water feature in a home. Even though it’s more attainable today than hundreds of years ago, it is still a special element to have in a backyard entrance or inside a home. If your home is located near a noisy street, the running fountain brings the focus away from the street noise and delights the ear with the sound of soothing water.

There is maintenance to consider when having a water feature or fountain, so we don’t recommend installing it next to a deciduous tree or shrubs. We want it to be a delight to have, not a nightmare to maintain. We also recommend getting a fountain or building a water feature with an autofill so that you never start the fountain without enough water in it, which will destroy the motor. Autofill is another item that will make your fountain easier to use and maintain.

5.     Outdoor Lighting

Once you have a beautifully laid out garden, outdoor living space or front entrance, adding low-voltage LED lights is like the cherry on top. Well, it’s more than that. Not only will your outdoor living space look more dramatic and beautiful, but you’ll be able to enjoy it after dark. It will also feel much safer because you’ll be able to see what goes on in every corner of your property.

Cat in a Hammock specializes in creating outdoor paradises in your backyard. Call 805.263.4200 or visit to learn more.