Outdoor Living Design Tips

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pool house design

The past few weeks has given many of us time to enjoy our outdoor living spaces – or wishing for one. Bringing the indoor aesthetic to the outdoors has been popular for years now, but it may be the key to our happiness these days! For those who have been dreaming about patios, porches and pools, we offer some advice on creating the ultimate outdoor living space.


outdoor living

The kitchen is the center of a home’s interior and the same can be said of an exterior space. The project pictured above is an example of the ultimate outdoor kitchen, but it began as a plan to allow the husband a covered area to grill. After discussing with the homeowners their true desires for an outdoor living space adjacent to their pool, this design by Gary Nance was born. Similar to planning an interior kitchen, we began with what they wanted to do in the space. It was very important to them that the kitchen be self-contained – no constant running back and forth to the main house for food and supplies. Therefore, they needed a lot of storage space for food and drinks. They also wanted a hidden spot for prepping and cleaning up, so we added a separate area with a dishwasher, sink, countertop and cabinetry. For the main kitchen area, we built two large workspaces; one along the cooking wall that included a large Wolf grill, a Green Egg, and custom ventilation; and one island that housed refrigerator drawers, an ice machine, a wine fridge, a kegerator, multiple sinks, storage and seating. A full-size fridge was also included in the design. While this project is awesomely over-the-top, the same ideas apply to a typical outdoor cooking spot. Pinpointing the desired appliances, prep and serving areas, storage needs and seating will help determine the best design for your outdoor chef.

Music and Movies

outdoor living

Listening to music or watching sports/movies while enjoying the outdoors is a popular amenity in outdoor living spaces. We bring A/V system experts like Millennium Sounds into our team to ensure our clients get what they are looking for. Placement is the center of the design – from where will the TV be watched? Where will people be listening to music? Understanding how our clients want to enjoy the space will determine what goes where. Average group size, seating, and separate spaces likes firepits, pools, and dining areas are all factored into the ultimate outdoor a/v design. And, we can’t forget about access to the system – the latest technology allows control from a smartphone, making turning up the music a breeze!


Whether its fireplaces or fire pits, many homeowners like to have a cozy spot to gather around especially in the spring and fall. Size is the largest consideration when it comes to designing these areas; how many people will be sitting around it? Will there be built-in seating, portable chairs or both? It is also important to consider flow to avoid blocking the walking traffic in the overall space. There are many options for fuel sources as well. We have built wood-fired, gas-fired and a mixture of both. Some love starting a wood fire from scratch, some like to just flip a switch and some like smell of a wood fire with the quick start of a gas ring. Don’t forget to plan where you will store the wood and tools too!


Mid Century Modern Home

Whether you are thinking pool, hot tub or both, the movement between the water and the rest of the outdoor space and home will determine how much you enjoy the design. If you are building new, consider its placement on the property based on creating a seamless flow between all your spaces. The same applies if you are adding an outdoor living area to an existing pool or hot tub; how will people get to and from it? Protecting the interior of your home from water and mud should be part of the design as well. Outdoor changing areas, or even just hooks, an outdoor shower and a dry shoe area, can help keep the stress of mess to a minimum. Finally, with pools come toys whether or not you have kids, so plan for easy storage.


Unless our clients do not mind a lot of in and out foot traffic inside their home, we tend to build spots that keep the necessities outside. A bathroom, changing area, even a laundry room in an outdoor living space can alleviate the indoor mess that comes with entertaining outside. For the project pictured above, we even built a custom vanity with a hearty concrete countertop and pull out step so kids could easily reach the sink.


For those lucky enough to have a beautiful view from their backyard, we always suggest making the most of it in their outdoor living design. Live on a golf course? Add some seating to watch the players. On a swimmable lake? Create a beautiful path to the shore and provide a spot for sunbathing. Gorgeous vista? Add comfortable viewing spots from your porch or patio. Finally, remember the view from the view; creating a gorgeous look to your back yard from the lake or golf course will only add to the experience.

Just like building or remodeling the interior of a home, it is important to understand how you want to use your outdoor living space before breaking ground. We have helped many clients create the backyard of their dreams – check out our portfolio to see our work. We’d love to help you too. Send us an email or give us a call at 317.596.0928.

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