By Max Mervis

Ever dreamed of adding more square footage to your home, but didn’t want to hassle with the mess, time and expense involved? As summer is now in full force, it’s time to forget those plastic lounge chairs in your backyard and take advantage of the space you have by creating an outdoor room. From an attached porch to just a shady landscaped area in your own backyard, an outdoor room can be created just about anywhere with some simple alterations and additions. The following are just a few ideas to help you start creating an open-air living room that will add comfort and value to your home year-round.

Location, Location, Location

The best way to find the ideal location of your outdoor living room is to simply go inside and check out the views. You’ll want to place your room in an area that makes it appear to be a natural extension of the house, whether it’s physically attached or not. If the ideal location of your room is in an independent area away from the house, the easiest way to connect it is to make a pathway. Lined with shrubbery or any kind of foliage, you can design a ‘hallway’ that leads directly to your garden hideaway. If you are fortunate enough to have a deck or porch to transform into your outdoor living room, use plants to frame the doorway to make it feel as if you’ve not left the house, but merely stepped into another room.

Outdoor Decor

The current trend for outdoor spaces is to decorate them just like living rooms, complete with comfortable seating, lighting and even an area rug. If the area you’ve chosen is away from the home, you’ll get the most out of your room by having some hardscaping installed.

Whether it’s a stone slab, a wooden deck or poured concrete, a hard surface will make it feel more like a room and ultimately be more functional. Poured concrete can be stamped and stained to resemble stone, making it the easiest and most cost-effective way of adding flooring. If you’re transforming an attached deck or patio, as a general rule you’ll want to stick to the overall design scheme of the interior of the house, but don’t let that limit you! Have fun and decorate it based on the feelings you want to evoke in the space.

Green it Up

Plants will soften any hard edges and add a sense of life, tranquility and comfort. For that casual feng shui feel, potted jade plants, ferns, curly bamboo and areca palms will set that a mood. A more formal outdoor living room could sport sculpted boxwoods, a trimmed ligustrum hedge and miniature orange trees, all of which will set a refined tone. Hardy English ivy in either a casual or formal outdoor room works beautifully, is extremely adaptable, and is easy to grow.

Just Add Water

The most serene outdoor room according to both landscape and interior designers contains a water feature. The relaxing sound of splashing water completes a peaceful setting, and will drown out any unpleasant background noise. Equally, if your room is meant for entertaining rather than mediation, the soft falling water is the perfect background “music” when sitting around the table. Don’t convince yourself that you have to invest in an expensive fountain or waterfall to generate tranquility, however. A simple tabletop fountain or contained water garden will evoke that same spa-like feel, making for the perfect place to gather with family and friends.

Featured Photo: 12759 Chalon Road, Brentwood