In the moderate year-round climate of the Texas Hill Country, custom outdoor living spaces are desired extensions to most homes. Outdoor rooms are bonus living areas for our families where we can socialize in areas tailored to our lifestyles.
When we’re designing outdoor rooms it’s important to remember good basic design principles as well as incorporate our particular outdoor environments. Many of us start with a complete master plan and fill in as time and budgets allow.
OUTDOOR LIVING ROOMS
Inviting outside areas can be created regardless of the space you have. Outdoor living rooms can be a small patio or a larger area with water features, fire pits and surfaces of textured concrete, stone, or alternative decking material. Pervious covers that allow rain to reach the ground, or designing areas to reclaim the water that run offs impervious areas is becoming popular as homeowners consider water conservation.
Most people want a place to sit and relax, prepare meals and dine, and a setting that’s conducive to socializing with others. This can include a traditional grill or a popular outdoor pizza oven. Plants can be in planters, landscaped or natural to the environment. Shade can come from a constructed structure, trellis, existing trees or weather-resistant fabric. Pergolas and other partial enclosures often reinforce the space as an extended room to our homes.
Adding a water feature gives a focal point outside and running water can be soothing to hear. This can be as simple as a fountain, or as elaborate as waterfalls and ponds. Water features can be a catchment for rainwater and recycled water may be part of the design. Birds and other wildlife appreciate water features as well.
More elaborate fish ponds, pools and waterfalls are also an interesting, beautiful and sometimes playful addition to outdoor spaces. Many communities such as Austin have a pond society with informative meetings, and yearly pond tours. Water gardening enthusiasts educate us on water gardening and keeping koi, turtles and other creatures.
Outdoor fireplaces or fire pits also come in many sizes and variations and can be an outdoor centerpiece. Fire pits can provide gathering places in cooler months, and have roasted many a marshmallow or s’more. Many modern fountains are combining both fire and water in the same feature.
CUSTOM OUTDOOR KITCHENS
Outdoor kitchens are often second cooking and dining areas. Applying basic kitchen principles allows for separate areas for cold, hot, wet and dry areas depending on space, needs and appliances. The distance from the outdoor area to the inside our homes also plays a role in our designs.
Our master designs should make allowances for utilities such as electric, water and gas. We may want to add fans and heaters, audio or visual equipment and outdoor lighting for ambiance and safety. Appliances designed for outside can include special dishwashers, sinks and refrigerators. These can make entertaining easier if we’re doing it often or for many.
We should have an idea of the numbers of guests we want to accommodate outdoors and have appropriate seating. Storage for any removable cushions or outdoor cooking and entertaining supplies can be helpful. We want low maintenance outdoor materials that can stand up to our year-round weather. Ask how the materials absorb summer sun? Are they easy to clean? Do they age well?
Whether the areas are large or small, informal or formal, having a place to enjoy the outdoors, prepare and share food and socialize is a plus for homeowners.
BELVEDERE CUSTOM HOMES
Custom outdoor living spaces are a big part of most of the luxury homes on 1-3–acre homesites in Belvedere on Hamilton Pool Road. Belvedere is a community of custom homes on 443 acres that includes an 80-acre nature preserve. This gated, upscale community offers a state of belonging and cheerful well-being. Visit us on Belvedere’s website, or find us on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.