Designing a Backyard That’s Built for Summer

There are backyards and then there are summer-friendly backyards. If you want to take your backyard to another level, it’s time to develop a master plan.

The Modern Backyard: Indoor Outdoor Living

When most adults think back to the backyards of their youth, they picture flat lawns, chain link fences, concrete patios, lawn chairs, basic swing sets, and cheap grills. And while there’s nothing wrong with the backyards of yesteryear – and they probably conjure up a sense of nostalgia deep inside you – the purpose, function, and design of the modern backyard is evolving.

Backyards are no longer empty spaces where moms tell their kids to play while they fix dinner in the kitchen. Over the last few years, the backyard has actually become a transitional space where the indoor spills over into the outdoor. In fact, you could call it indoor outdoor living.

What was merely a pipedream 20 years ago has become the standard in architecture and design today. The kitchen and living room are being brought outside for maximum enjoyment during the warmer months – and backyard design is no longer an afterthought.

Designing a Backyard That’s Built for Summer

If you’re interested in designing your own summer-friendly backyard oasis that has all of the comforts of the indoors in a peaceful, pleasant outdoor setting, you’ll have to be strategic and conscientious about your approach. In particular, you may want to think about some of the following:

1. Transitioning From Living Room to Backyard

Most homes have a distinct divide between indoor living and the backyard. Not only are there windows, walls, and doors, but there’s also a complete shift in the use of materials and the design of spaces. Over the last few years, this divide has become less overt.

“What everybody wants now is a large family room that ties into the backyard, that flows into an outside dining room and kitchen which ties into the pool area,” says Gary W. Drake, a luxury home builder in the Los Angeles area. “It’s a seamless kind of atmosphere.”

To design a look that accomplishes this, you have to stop thinking about indoor living and outdoor living. Instead, you have to think of it as indoor outdoor living. By bringing elements of the indoors outdoors, you tear down this divide and create a more harmonious experience that can be enjoyed in multiple capacities.

2. Integrating Top-Notch Appliances

The idea of outdoor appliances used to conjure up images of tripod Weber grills and mini-fridges. Today, it’s all about integrating top-notch technology into outdoor living areas. In high-end, luxury backyard design, it’s not particularly uncommon to see things like $25,000 integrated grills and $10,000 fridges and wine chillers. Even in moderate backyard designs, outdoor appliances are often nicer than (or on par with) the indoor appliances found inside the home.

The key is to think about the functionality of the space and how you want to use it. If it’s conducive to your favorite cooking methods, you’ll use your outdoor living more often (and get more enjoyment out of it).

“If you want to take your outdoor experience to a whole new level, you may want to consider a rotisserie or pizza oven,” Universal Appliance and Kitchen Center suggests. “Even if you want to stick to just using a grill, there are so many options available that can include roasting spits, griddles, burners, smokers and warming drawers.”

3. Creating Functional Spaces

It’s not all about patios, porches, and outdoor kitchens. Landscaping plays a big role in backyard design. Not only does good landscaping create some privacy from neighboring yards, but it also helps add to the function and purpose of the backyard.

When designing your backyard, focus on creating functional spaces – rather than one big open area. Examples of functional spaces include: outdoor kitchen, seating area, fire pit, garden, play area, etc.

Make Your Backyard Functional and Compelling

You obviously face certain constraints with your backyard. For instance, a lot depends on your budget and spatial limitations. But what you’ll discover is that today’s modern backyards don’t need to be outrageously expensive or complex. They simply need to be functional and compelling. The objective is to merge the indoors with the outdoors in a comfortable and unique manner that maximizes your property and brings versatility into your home. Think outside the box and you’ll eventually zero in on a design you love.


Tags: backyard, functional, summer

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