Tara N. Wilfong Reports
10 things to Consider Before Building an Outdoor Space:
1. Define your goals. Before you break ground or even draw up plans, determine what you want out of the space. Is a pool important to you or are you more inclined to entertain with an al fresco kitchen and dining area? Once you come up with a clear idea, your architect and designer can put the plan into action.
2. Do research. Many communities have specific covenants by which all homeowners must abide. Do your homework to find out what structures are acceptable, and determine if you must provide any documentation or receive special permission prior to breaking ground.
3. Consider direction. Everything from sun exposure to view to proximity to food preparation should be exactly measured prior to drawing up plans. If sun exposure is too great, think about installing a pergola or shade cover that enhances the design and promotes an outdoor experience. Keeping a beautiful, unencumbered view is equally important for aesthetics therefore structures and plantings should be kept to a minimum in these lines of sight. Finally, make sure dining and entertainment spaces are close to your source for food preparation for practicality and ease of entertaining.
4. Use professionals. When it comes to extensive outdoor additions, it is important to hire licensed professionals and to check their references. In the event of future changes or expansions, they can think ahead during the initial phase of the project to include everything from extra outlets to water spigots.
5. Coordinate your theme. If your home is contemporary in style, design your exterior space to be contemporary as well. Make sure your personal taste is highlighted both inside and out and that you do not stray from your true design style.
6. Choose materials wisely. Outdoor structures, furniture and fabrics will be put to the test?from extreme temperature highs to blistering lows?so choose materials that can withstand the range and be cleaned easily.
7. Invest in multi-functional lighting. Whether you choose gas or electric lights, a soft, ambient glow can set the nighttime mood. In addition, architectural lighting is a must for highlighting specific elements of the design, from columns and beams to pergolas and landscaping pottery.
8. Consider a heat source. Nothing defines an outdoor space like a fireplace or firepit. In Colorado especially, these become necessary on cool evenings, both in the summer and winter, and also serve as a functional design element. In most cases, gas fireplaces and firepits are mandatory due to no-burn days that are frequently posted in the region, which make wood-burning illegal.
9. Level the field. Consider keeping your outdoor space level with the finished floor of the house; steps can sometimes disrupt the free-flow from one space to the other. The goal of the space is to make it a natural extension of the home.
10. Choose native plants. With Colorado?s hot, dry summers and blustery winters, it is a good idea to choose native plants that are adaptable to the climate. Ornamental trees and grasses are great groundcover, while flowers that bloom throughout the summer provide a pop of color.