Outdoor Living Spaces: Adding an Outdoor Room
(ARA) - One of the hottest trends among homeowners is to extend a home's living space to the outdoors. Many homeowners want a refuge from the hectic pace of daily life. Decks can provide a place to relax and enjoy the outdoor setting.
Today's decks aren't just your dull rectangular slabs of yesterday. "People are designing decks to fit how they intend to use the space," says Mike Woods of Sound Cedar. More often, deck designs receive as much careful attention as the home's interior. Many homeowners are designing decks with increased levels of privacy, further blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Designing and building an outdoor living space that adds a mark of distinction to your home takes some planning, creative thinking and the proper materials.
Layout & Design
Woods recommends asking a few simple questions before you design an outdoor living space. You should ask what the deck will be used for. Consider where items like chairs and tables will go. Think about which views you would like to cover up or preserve. Answers to questions like these will save you time and money.
Layout can be easily determined by dividing the deck into different zones. Some zones, like dining areas, will require extra space. A zone's function should determine its location. For example, a cooking area should be close to the kitchen, and an area with a great view may be best for sitting.
If you are interested in privacy, consider a simple trellis which allows you to enjoy great views and quiet conversation in private. A trellis decorated with climbing flowers increases the deck's solitude and beauty.
According to Woods, creating a 3-D model of your deck is a great way to see how it will look when constructed. The Western Red Cedar Lumber Association's "Deck Designer" (www.wrcla.org/deck_designer) lets you specify the design and materials of your deck. You can then create a 3-D model with design tips and a materials list.
Homeowners can choose from many natural or synthetic materials when building a deck but Woods believes the only real option is Western Red Cedar. The wood brings an exceptional all-natural look, aroma and character to outdoor living spaces, coupled with outstanding performance and ease of maintenance.
"The durability of Western Red Cedar is outstanding," says Woods. One of the world's most durable woods, Western Red Cedar contains natural preservatives that resist moisture, decay and insect damage. Its appearance can be enhanced with the application of stains.
Western Red Cedar is also one of the world's most naturally beautiful woods. "Western Red Cedar comes in a variety of grades that can add a mark distinction to a home," says Paul Mackie, the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association's "Mr. Cedar." The different grades -- from knotty to clear -- can be combined to create artistic patterns in a space.
Although Western Red Cedar ages beautifully, applying a finish will maintain the wood's original appearance. "Many people choose Western Red Cedar for its natural beauty," Mackie says. "Applying a clear or semi-transparent finish protects the original look, though some people prefer the classic silver gray of well-aged cedar." No matter what finish you choose, Mackie recommends always testing it on scrap material or a discrete area of the gazebo before applying it to the entire structure.
Building with Western Red Cedar can also lessen a home's environmental footprint, or total impact on the environment. That's especially true when it's compared with synthetic or mineral building products like metal, cement, stucco or plastic that must be extracted from the ground and are not renewable.
"Western Red Cedar is one of the most environmentally friendly building products you can use," says Mackie. "It's recyclable, biodegradable and even reusable. It also has a sustainable lifecycle, unlike other products that must be mined or chemically manufactured."
Final Steps -- Construction and Decoration
Keep in mind that your outdoor living space is a transition between your home and yard. Placing some furniture just outside the entrance will ease the transition from inside. Decorating the space with plants seen in the immediate area will help the transition to the yardscape.
For more information on making your new deck a reality, go to www.realcedar.org.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
For more information on building your outdoor living space, please read this article on deck design ideas.