Outdoor Living

Construction Plans for Building an Outdoor Room

An extension of your home's beauty

Are you ready to make your backyard a haven for rest, relaxation and great food? Building an outdoor room can seem overwhelming and confusing at first. There are so many options and they all carry quite a hefty price. However, it helps if you think of an outdoor room as an extension of your own home. Some landscapers believe that the backyard should be worth up to 10 percent of your home's value. For some people, that's around $20,000 or more, but you don't need that much to build a great outdoor room. Your room should be a reflection of your tastes and personality, working with garden elements to create a space that you will love.

On this page you'll find information for building outdoor rooms, including:

Building an outdoor space requires some thought and consideration. A good outdoor room uses several focal elements in order to successfully combine inner and outer decor. A few questions to ask yourself could be: Do you want a fireplace? Will you be cooking outside? What kind of lounging options will you need?


  • Your foundation options. Are you thinking of building a deck or patio ? Or do you already have one? Do you have an existing deck or patio, or will you build one? If you're planning to have a lot ofon buying outdoor electronics or devices that require a plug, you may want to station your room close to your house. If you want to take advantage of your pool or existing water feature, you may want to place the room out in the yard or in a small alcove of your garden for extra privacy.

  • What kind of shelter you'll want, if any. If you're planning to build a room that you can take advantage of almost year-round, you may want an awning or pergola to deflect some of the sunlight or keep off the rain. You may even want to build a roof extension from your house. How much time will you spend outside? That should help you decide whether your shelter should be temporary, like an umbrella or marquee, or permanent.

  • How you want your outdoor room to look. What's your style? Do you follow modern trends or do you want your room to have a classic look? Luckily, there's a myriad of furniture, decor and fabric options that will let you design your room any way you wish. There are also many different outdoor accessories you can get to dress up your space.

  • Any paths and walkways you might want to use. This really only applies if you have several outdoor rooms, or if your outdoor room is not connected to a patio directly outside your home. You can create an interesting effect using these, and tie in your whole garden to your outdoor space.

  • Storage options. If you're buying a lot of accessories, particularly if they're valuable, you may want to consider purchasing weatherproof cabinets and boxes with locks to protect your things from animals, weather and thieves.

If you've decided to begin building your outdoor room, consider whether or not you want to buy an outdoor furniture set, normally including a grill, furniture and sometimes a pergola and fire element, or build it from scratch. If you decide to build it yourself and you plan to include an outdoor kitchen, you may want to hire some electrical contractors and plumbing contractors to ensure that the electricity and water are correctly set up. If you're hooking a grill to a gas line, call your local gas company to get a professional to do it for you. Be safe and have fun creating, building and living in your new outdoor space.

Function and Style

Making outdoor trends work for you

Outdoor style starts by establishing the theme of your outdoor room. With the multitude of options available, you can choose to create a Hawaiian oasis or a chic Asian-style retreat. Outdoor rooms tie in the organic beauty of your garden and the novelty of indoor-type furniture to create a space that encompasses the best of both worlds, and provide function as well as comfort and style. Make your space a place you want to be in, rain or shine.

What's In for Spring

Looking to keep up with the latest trends? Trick your outdoor space out this season in bright metallic colors and funky '60s decor. Include bright flowery fabrics and space-age appliances to really make a splash in style. Furniture should be sleek with clean lines, and don't forget to include that big show stopper focal point in your room, be it a unique piece of art or a carefully designed outdoor fireplace.

Determining a Style

Approach outdoor decorating the same way you would decorate an indoor space. Create a wish list of furniture and accessories you really like by cutting them out from gardening magazines, then try to match your vision to the options available. Find swatches of fabric and paint chips to determine a color scheme, and start thinking about how texture will play into your decorating. Where the outdoor room will be located can help in deciding a theme - for example, an outdoor living room by the pool could have a Caribbean feel, while an outdoor kitchen by the house could be rambling and country-style.

Don't forget, outdoor decor has a big place in an outdoor room. If you're going for an elegant feel, try including several plaster statues in classical poses around the fireplace, or a bronze turtle on the edge of the pond. Put up whimsical garden wall hangings or candle holders to create a little extra character among your chic furnishings.

If space is an issue, you can double up on function and style. For instance, purchasing a few comfortable deep-seated chairs for around your new coffee table will provide you with both a living area and a dining area. A daybed can be used for sleeping and for lounging with friends. Choose furniture that you can play with to create different moods and functions within your outdoor room.

Downscale your furniture choices to fit your space. If you have a balcony or small patio, create zones to make your outdoor room as functional as you can. If you'd like, hang a set of weather- resistant curtains to divide the room. Plants are also great room dividers. If you're looking for an inexpensive way to add style to your space, try going retro chic with a beaded curtain. This will allow light and color into each of your zones. But be sure to secure your curtain on windy days!

If you don't have the space to include a dining table, try buying a stack of nesting tablesinstead. These are extremely versatile and can be used to display your favorite objects or hold plants - perfect for those who want to build a container garden. They're also easily stored away when you're finished with them. Sure beats eating on your lap.

Foundation for an Outdoor Room

Giving you something to build on

As outdoor rooms become more popular, it is becoming more common to undertake a patio renovation in order to have an outdoor space which is more spectacular. Outdoor rooms are extremely versatile - anywhere you have a flat surface can be another place full of possibility. Remember, a foundation can actually accentuate the style of your outdoor room, and provide another canvas on which to base your room's color and decor.

Building a Foundation

If you don't already have an existing deck, porch or patio from which to start building your outdoor room , your first task is to create a foundation. Think about the style you want to create in your space to decide what you'd like to build. The kind of yard you have can determine what kind of foundation you'll need. For example, if you have a marshy lawn prone to flooding, a patio might not be a good idea for the floor of an outdoor room. If your house is on a hill, a multi-level deck might work for your yard.

A foundation can be made from wood, stone, plastic and composite materials. Depending on your budget, you might choose to use a variety of materials and combine a deck with a patio. Existing walls of your house or trellises can serve as walls for your outdoor room, or you can leave it completely open to the breezes. Walls also give support for an overhead shelter, such as an awning or roof.

Deck or Patio?

If you decide on building a deck, think about whether you want it to be single-level or multi- level. A multi-level deck allows for more than one outdoor room. For example, you could have a living area on the top deck and a kitchen on the lower deck. A single-level deck works for flat surfaces or smaller spaces. Don't forget to include space for plants and trees so that you can bring the garden into your outdoor room.

You should also think about staining your deck, to protect it and keep it looking great. You can choose a natural stain or go wild and paint it in bold, bright colors. The colors you use can really pick out accents in your furniture and decor, causing your room to really stand out.

Patios don't have to be boring - they're no longer just gray or terra cotta-colored stone floors. You can find patio stones in a variety of shapes, colors and textures to really create an amazing floor. If you create a mosaic floor, make sure to put down a weed retardant sheet before arranging your stones - you don't want the stones to naturalize too quickly, or you'll be picking out unwanted weeds from your design.

You may also want to take your patio or deck to the next level by buying a hot tub to include on or inside the foundation. This would not only boost the aesthetic value of the patio or deck, but also increase the amount of leisure you can enjoy in your outdoor room.

Shelter and Privacy

Keeping the raindrops from falling on your head

While outdoor rooms are a great way to relax and enjoy being outside in comfort and style, there is the small problem of the weather. No one really enjoys being outdoors when it's raining, and it can dampen a barbecue or party in more ways than one. But you can create a great outdoor space without having to worry about the elements raining on your parade. Temporary shelters and permanent shelters allow you to continue to cook, eat and chat just like you would inside your house, and also gives you the bonus of privacy from nosy neighbors.

Shelter Options

When choosing a shelter for your outdoor room, you should consider how often you'll be using it and in what season. If you're strictly a summer lounger, purchasing a temporary shelter that you can take down at the end of the season will be easier on your wallet and may even allow you to add to your outdoor room in other ways. However, if you spend a lot of time outdoors, you might want to consider a permanent shelter, which will allow you to be outside without worrying about you or your furnishings getting wet.

Temporary Shelters

If you're looking to build a temporary shelter over your outdoor room, you have several options to choose from. The cheapest option would be an outdoor umbrella, which will shade the main part of your room and can be actually attached to one of your home's exterior walls or mounted on a pole. You can also put up a colorful awning, or set up a plastic gazebo-like structure if you don't have an exterior wall to mount your shelter on. Temporary shelters are made of waterproof material, but should be taken down to prevent damage when the weather gets rough.

Permanent Shelters

These shelters are made of wood or metal and are normally an extension of a home's roof. They can also be built securely into the ground or as an attachment to the house. These shelters can include trellises, pergolas, arbors, gazebos or extensions of the roof. Many people who want a partial shelter (as in, they can still see the sky when sitting in their outdoor space) will build a pergola or arbor to give some shade and a bit of shelter from the rain. Others may build trellises to train climbing plants to grow over the roof, creating a natural shelter.

It is important to note that building quality permanent shelters often requires the aid of a professional general contractor. If you have limited building experience or want to ensure you're outdoor shelter looks the best it can while being the safest it can be, then hire a professional.

Privacy Options

If you don't want Bob next door to peer into your yard every time you have a backyard party, your outdoor room will require some privacy. This won't apply to you if you have a big property and your nearest neighbor is a mile away, but if you live in the suburbs, you know that a fenced yard sometimes just doesn't do it. Luckily, privacy is easy with an outdoor room - just buy curtains. Curtains are sheer, so they'll let some light in and are also weatherproofed to keep the rain out. Plus, they're just opaque enough that someone won't be able to see what's happening in your outdoor room.

Plants are also great for creating that private space in your yard. Tall, thick-leaved plants prevent people from seeing in, and also create dividers between your outdoor rooms so that you can have several themes in your yard without overlap. You can also build a trellis or use existing walls for privacy.

Paths and Walkways

The borders of paradise

When it comes to garden planning, an important step is the construction of paths and walkways through your outdoor space. Even if your garden isn't very big, a path will divide the yard into sections where different events and plant themes can take place. Paths and walkways are another way to get creative with your yard - you can choose to build something simple or include pergolas, decorations and plants to make it into something out of a storybook. As well, natural stone and brick can lend your home a more beautiful look, especially when coupled with the right garden style.

Before planning your paths and walkways, take these questions into consideration:

  • How big is your garden? If you have a relatively small space, you can lay a wide walkway diagonally through the yard - this will make your space look bigger and allow you to create different garden knots on either side of the path. Bigger yards can be intricately divided or partitioned into outdoor "rooms" and separate gardens. For example, you could have an outdoor kitchen , a moonlight garden and a space for your spa.
  • What kind of materials do you want to use? This will depend on the theme and style of your garden and also on how much work you want to do.
  • What will you use your walkways for? Will they edge a focal point in your garden, be used as dividers or lead up to secret nooks and alcoves in your yard?
  • What kind of climate do you live in? This will determine what kind of foundation material you'll use under your pathways. Certain foundation mats will collect water, which can freeze and be extremely dangerous in the wintertime.
  • Where are the main foundation plants in your yard? Any pathway should be kept at least 2 feet from any shrubbery or trees to allow room for root growth.
Types of Paths and Walkways

Building a pathway is like painting a picture - you're only limited by your imagination. A walkway can reflect the theme of your yard or be completely your own creation. There are many different types of materials that you can use to trace pathways through your yard, including:

  • Preset pavers
  • Crushed or pea gravel
  • Wood chips
  • Natural stone
  • Stepping stone
  • Cobblestone
  • Wooden decking
  • Brick

You may want to pair a path with a bridge in places that are damp or prone to flooding so that you can always access all areas of the garden.

Outdoor Storage

Keeping your stuff safe outside

You've spent a lot to get your outdoor room the way you want it to be - you've laid your foundations, built your shelters and determined your style. And now that you've enjoyed your outdoor space, it's time to put everything away - but where? Do you have room in your garage or basement to store all your outdoor accessories and fabrics? If you don't, then having an outdoor room might end up being more of a hassle than fun. Luckily, you can build your outdoor room to include storage options and make sure your things remain safe, afterall not everyone has an outdoor security system.

Storage used to mean a spider-filled garden shed in the far corner of the backyard. Now, you can incorporate many attractive storage options into your outdoor furniture, foundation and kitchen. This is especially important when you have outdoor electronics that you use every day, but you don't want to leave them out at night. Airtight storage containers built into furniture will ensure that your fabrics won't mold when it gets wet or humid outside.

Kitchen Cabinets

If you're going to have an outdoor kitchen, this is definitely the way to go to store extra non- perishable food, utensils, dishes and small appliances. Outdoor kitchen cabinets are normally made of stainless steel or aluminum to protect against the elements. They sometimes include things like warming drawers and trash receptacles, and they provide ample storage for your kitchen things that you just don't feel like dragging back inside. You can also buy locks to keep your stuff safe when you're not in your outdoor room.

Storage within Furniture

If you've got an outdoor living room, you're probably well aware that a lot of outdoor furniture can have more than one function. This is true with furniture that's been built into decks or bought for an outdoor space. Ottomans, daybeds and sometimes sofas can include a cavity in which you can store things like extra cushions, blankets and outdoor electronics. Like many things made for the outdoors, they're weatherproofed, and the average observer won't know at first glance that you're storing anything inside that piece of furniture.

Cabinets, sheds and chests are available for outdoor rooms as well - they're stylish and contemporary but still hardy enough to withstand anything the weather has to throw at them. The best part? These cabinets not only add style to your room, they also come with locks so that your things remain safe, which is comforting when you think about how much some of your outdoor items can cost; of course if you bought discounted outdoor furniture, you may not be as concerned.