Open-Air Living

Escape to Your Own Backyard

Outdoor living has come a long way from the patch of grass and picnic table of the 1950s. For the same cost as a vacation, you can transform your yard into an additional living space—a relaxing refuge from the stresses of daily life. With outdoor rooms, you can open your back door to a mini-vacation every day.

Start planning your dream yard now with advice from our local experts in outdoor living: Damon Mundey of The Turf Tailor, Praddy Mangat of BOVA Contemporary Furniture and Kerry Goode of Delhi Flower and Garden Center.

Damon Mundey explains, “Outdoor living is all about transforming your outside to be livable, comfortable space as an extension of your house. When the weather turns, everyone wants to be outside. Create an environment outside that is comfortable to be in.”

Kerry Goode adds that you need to evaluate how you want to use your space. “You’ve got to think about what you want your outdoor space to be used for: Do you entertain? Is it for kids? Is it for you to relax?”

Which outdoor room suits your style?

For the Foodie

The grill area grows up in today’s popular outdoor kitchenette. Tap into your inner grill master and create a space to cook up something special.

Mundey helps clients design hardscapes and landscapes for their dream yards and builds everything from the simple to the elaborate.

“A popular kitchenette idea encloses the grill space and adds outdoor surfaces for cooking. You can add extended counters for a bar with stone walls for seating,” he says.

For a touch of gourmet, Goode suggests that you grow herbs in the grilling area, so you can snip fresh rosemary, thyme and parsley to top your grilled chicken and steaks.

He says, “We are seeing a lot of raised beds incorporated into the stonework around the patio area, so you can get some fresh herbs and throw a steak on the grill.”

“Some outdoor spaces even include little refrigerator units for wine and beer for entertaining,” Goode adds.

For the Party Planner

Nothing brings people together like a fire. Invite the team over to roast hot dogs, make s’mores with the kids or snuggle up under the stars for a romantic evening for two.

Goode shares, “The most popular outdoor living space includes the firepit—very relaxing.”

Mundey says that he and his crew built many custom firepits in the area last summer, matching size and seating to their customers’ specifications.

“Make your yard unique to you—what you want and need. You don’t want to have the same look as your neighbors,” he says.

Praddy Mangat adds, “The newest thing is a firepit that burns biotech fuel, which doesn’t have any fumes at all.”

For those with a flair for the dramatic, Mangat recommends a concrete table with a biofuel burner embedded in its center.

“It’s an inviting centerpiece,” Mangat says.

For the Lounger

Relax in an open-air living room. The latest trends in furnishings include plush cushions covered in durable but comfortable outdoor-friendly fabric.

“Color and comfort make an outdoor space great,” Mangat says. “People tend to go for rattan with Sunbrella cushions that come in colors that work with their décor,” he says.

Mangat adds, “Outdoor ceramic planters are popular to add some color to outdoor spaces.” Oversized and textured planters are available at his store, BOVA Contemporary Furniture, in bold, eye-catching colors: orange, aqua, lime, yellow.

Goode suggests that you let your landscaping define the space in your outdoor room. Plants separate your yard from your neighbors for privacy as you refuel.

“Create a fence from a row of evergreens,” Goode says. “They block the wind and stabilize the temperature in your yard.”

Goode warns to be careful about what and where you plant.

“Choose your plants wisely for around the patio. You don’t want to choose anything that attracts too many bumblebees or birds,” he says. “You want the natural habitat, but at a distance from the patio.”

Some even add upgrades to their lounge space: large-screen televisions, patio heaters and water features.

Mundey has custom-built all styles of water features, from small stone fountains to stream beds and even full-sized creeks.

“Who doesn’t want to listen to the calming sounds of trickling water?” he asks.

For the Kids

Children need room to roam. Remember to leave space in your design for a plot of well-maintained lawn for outdoor games.

Mundey advises that you add space for the adults in the play area, too.

He says, “Incorporate livable space around the kids’ play sets—bench seats for parents, and flower beds that make your garden stand out.”

Goode counsels that you keep your garden kid-friendly.

He says, “Get help identifying which plants to add to your outdoor living spaces. You can’t be too careful with kids and pets. Watch out for things like birds, bees, poisons and thorns.”

Room to Grow

Mix and match any combination of ideas to shape the backyard of your dreams.

“We’ve created designs where there’s a firepit on one level, leading to a grilling and picnic paver patio, leading to a social level where you can watch TV and hang-out,” says Mundey. “It’s our goal to give the customer exactly what they want.”

When you add an outdoor room to your yard, not only do you gain a retreat, you get much more.

“Outdoor rooms add value to homes. It’s livable square footage,” Mundey says.

Escape to your own backyard for relaxing, open-air living.