Are there days when it feels like the walls and ceilings at home are literally closing in on you? Well, try making the ceilings and walls disappear by moving those inside rooms outside.
Outdoor living allows people to enjoy nearly all the comforts of indoors in a truly open and airy setting. The evolution of weather-resistant products now makes it possible to actually enjoy an outdoor living space without sacrificing style or comfort.
For an up close and personal view of what’s hot outside, Indoors Outdoors located on Wooster Road features an array of colorful furnishings and accessories lovely enough to be displayed indoors but resilient enough to remain outdoors, says CEO Lynne Fraser.
She says the trend of outdoor living expanded exponentially during the last several years due to the popularity of home and garden TV channels. Now even Midwesterners can achieve the feel of the Mediterranean without leaving their own backyard.
“I think people want to be on vacation in their outdoor space,” Fraser says. “It’s like saying, ‘We want to live somewhere else,’ and we can do this by just going outside.”
Products such as cast iron, aluminum and weather-resistant fabrics have flooded the marketplace in the last several years, making outdoor products affordable and stylish, Fraser says. Customers can design their own personal space at Indoors Outdoors using a bountiful color pallet provided by suppliers for drapes, cushions and throw pillows. People even seem surprised by outdoor rugs, these days composed of soft and welcoming fabric.
Although her store sometimes features floor sales, Fraser says ordering items generally takes six weeks. But she says buying something of quality is worth the wait even if it’s well into summer.
“As humans, outdoors is more like home when we create floors, ceilings and walls,” she says. “To make people comfortable, you really have to create those elements.”
At Hyde Park Landscaping, landscape designer John Miller says one of the most popular trends in outdoor living for the Tristate centers around fire pits and fireplaces — ideal for spring and fall entertaining.
People use the fire features as the focal point, then design the space around them ranging from comfy outdoor furnishings to elaborate adjacent rooms featur ing porticos (a covered structure) or pergolas (a structure with an open top).
To give the space a feeling of elegance, Miller suggests adding indoor touches such as sitting walls, curtains, rugs or attractive lighting. He says he likes to customize designs to fit the homeowners’ lifestyles, combining both his and their ideas for the perfect balance.
Besides creating an outdoor oasis, Miller says landscaping increases the value of a home. When done properly, it can yield a 100 percent return on investment.
“Every night people can go outdoors and relax and escape their everyday lives,” he says. “In this economy, if people can’t sell their homes, at least they can increase the value and enjoy the improvements at the same time.”
Before purchasing pieces haphazardly, Fredrick’s Landscaping landscape designer Mark Kuhnell recommends people evaluate what they’re looking to accomplish when designing an outdoor living area. During an initial consultation, he says he tries to identify the “hot button” of what would get clients to spend time outdoors.
He says sometimes it’s as simple as learning that a client loves to cook and then designing the perfect outdoor kitchen and dining space. Finished areas can range in price from $6,000 for a simple poured concrete slab with some landscaping and furnishings to more than $100,000 for exotic swimming pools, landscaping and multiple rooms including extras such as outdoor televisions, elegant lighting, outdoor appliances and even pizza ovens.
“The whole idea of outdoor living came around with the change of available products,” Kuhnell says. “So about anything people do inside you can now do outside.”
Fredrick’s clients Kathleen and James Barefield say after purchasing their home in Mason they realized they weren’t using their outdoor space, which consisted of a bare-bones concrete slab with no shade or landscaping. Being an interior designer, Kathleen says she realized only extensive renovation would rekindle their relationship with the outdoors.
The couple then contracted the landscaping company, which completed their outdoor living space last spring. Kathleen says the finished product looks amazing, featuring three main areas — a grill, a fireplace and a pergola all joined together by pavers that flow together to create a balanced, comfortable space.
Since the renovation, she says the two of them enjoy their outdoor living area as a place of refuge after work as well as an ideal location for family get togethers and entertaining.
“Figure out what your family enjoys, what weather issues you have and invest in quality,” she adds.
Outdoor living doesn’t always need to be accompanied by a sky-high price tag. For do-it-yourselfers, Hart Productions show manager Vicki Hart recommends visiting the Home and Garden Show or other outdoor living exhibits for that one-stop shopping type of experience. She says vendors create amazing displays that allow people to envision the products in their own backyard.
Anyone can expand their living to the outdoors, even if it’s a small space and a small budget, Hart says, adding that a plethora of affordable new products hits the market every year.
At this year’s Home and Garden Show, she says people seemed enamored with the displays.
“The crowds loved them, they really sat there and stared at them and looked at them and studied them, because some of these things you don’t have full landscape to enjoy,” Hart says. “It’s something that you could also do yourself. It’s not something that you have to have a full-blown plan to initiate.” �