Mike Croxall: Turn Your Backyard Into Great Living Space

Monday, September 11, 2017 - by Mike Croxall, president, Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga

When you think of making home improvements, the interior and exterior of your home may get the most focus. But there is also a lot of potentially great living space just outside your door. Here are a few ways to make your back (or front) yard a seamless extension of your home for entertaining and enjoying the Chattanooga area days and evenings of summer, fall and beyond.

Outdoor Living and Dining Rooms, Kitchens

It’s becoming more common to see cushioned chairs, benches and tables arranged on a separated patio or adjoining the home, often under an awning or roof but still very much in the open air of your backyard.

Start off on the right foot with a properly installed and graded patio of stone or concrete and you can enjoy meals or just have a comfortable place to relax with friends and family. Some go further and create an outdoor kitchen complete with a grill, sink, refrigerator, and countertop and storage space, often built right into a patio’s stonework. Be sure to buy furniture, rugs and accessories that have been designed for outdoor or outdoor/indoor use.

Fire Pits and Fireplaces

Another more recent trend is having a skilled professional install a freestanding brick or stone fireplace near a seating or entertaining area in your backyard. It can create a sense of privacy while still leaving you out in nature, as well as provide a welcome glow and warmth into the fall months. Likewise, fire pits can be permanently installed to provide a safe, appealing glow to your outdoor gathering.

Patios and Walkways

Is your backyard patio a square or rectangular slab of concrete? Think outside the box, as the saying goes, and expand or replace that drab slab with a rounded or flowing contoured patio. There are many options to choose from, and even the least expensive materials like concrete have come a long way with varied textures, visual appeal and durability. Add a meandering walkway through a garden space and beyond to draw your backyard, landscaping and patio area together into an inviting, cohesive living space.

Stone Gardens

Rocks may be an unwelcome site when you are installing fence posts or digging a patio or a hole to place a plant, but don’t toss them away just yet. Stones can add color and texture to a garden, and larger rocks can create their own unique focal point. Add new dimension to your backyard with stones large or small. Think of it this way — you’ll never have to water them!

Pergolas and Outdoor Lighting

Break up, instead of block out, the daylight sun with wooden structures like pergolas to bring some welcome shade without creating a barrier between you and the outdoors you are enjoying. At night, these same structures can feature lighting elements designed specifically for outdoor use to add a subtle but helpful glow in the evening. Lighting can also be put to great use along your patio and walkways, providing a lit space for safety and appeal without taking away from the night-time ambience.

Installing elements like these into your home’s outdoor space is a great way to expand the enjoyment of your home. But don’t be shy to contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at www.hbagc.net to find contractors with the necessary expertise to help you with your project. When it comes to permanent and more costly fixtures such as fireplaces, patios and walkways, and even outdoor kitchens, they will work better, be safer and last longer when properly installed.


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