June 23

How to Plan Your Outdoor Living Space


You’re not alone if you’re thinking about updating your outdoor living space. Outdoor living continues to be a growing trend. Homeowners are adding patios, decks, and other outdoor spaces to extend their living space for relaxation and entertainment. If you’ve finally decided to update your outdoor living area or invest in a brand new space, understanding how to turn your dreams into reality is essential. 

Unfortunately, many people put time and money into an outdoor space but rarely use it. Maybe it wasn’t really what they wanted, wasn’t designed well for the entire family, or wasn’t comfortable somehow. Pre-planning helps eliminate costly mistakes. 

Consider the Following Factors

1. What’s Your Goal?

The first step is to decide how you want to use the space. The answers to these questions will help determine what type of space you need:

  • Do you want to sunbathe or relax in the shade?
  • Do you want a private space to relax and unwind?
  • Does your area need to be kid or pet friendly?
  • Do you host formal dinner parties or casual BBQs?
  • Do you want a place to grill?
  • How many people do you typically entertain?
  • Do you want to host outdoor movie nights?

If you host more formal dinner parties or entertain large groups, you’ll want to focus on ample seating, ground cover and flooring, and overhead protection from the sun and rain. If you want a space to prepare complete meals, adding an outdoor kitchen may be a priority. If you want a private retreat primarily for one or two adults, an enclosed porch or patio may be the right option.

2. Special Challenges

Once you’ve determined how you want to use your outdoor living area, you need to consider unique challenges for your particular situation. Consider sunlight, privacy, and space.

Sunlight: If your yard is exposed to full sun or wind, how will you create a comfortable space that is sheltered from those elements? If your outdoor space receives a lot of direct sunlight, you’ll want to provide shade for comfort. 

Privacy: Depending on the proximity of your neighbors and your yard’s existing fencing and landscaping, you’ll need to think about how to provide privacy to allow full enjoyment of your space. Adding additional landscaping, fencing, or privacy screens will add to the cost of your project.

Space: Exterior spaces do not have helpful walls and doors to provide a sense of scale. This often results in homeowners misjudging the size of the area and the appropriate size for their outdoor living space. This can result in a crowded area, poor traffic flow, or an uncomfortable space that is rarely used. It’s essential to determine how to manage traffic flow and include the features you want without overcrowding the area.

3. Your Budget

Your budget will influence what you can do and your choices in terms of design, materials, labor, and more. Before making decisions, figure out how much you can afford to spend. You may also want to talk to a local real estate agent to see what types of outdoor spaces get the best return on investment in your area.

4. Make a Wish List

Once you’ve established the purpose of your outdoor space and your budget, you’ll need to prioritize the features you want to incorporate. Those priorities should reflect the purpose of the space. If you want to create a family-friendly outdoor environment, a swimming pool might be right for you. A complete outdoor kitchen can be helpful if you plan to entertain large groups of people on a regular basis.

5. Permits and Restrictions

When planning an outdoor space, it’s essential to consider potential challenges that prevent you from realizing your dreams. Contact your local building department to see what permits will be needed and any restrictions you may have. You may not have enough space to add a full-size pool. A full-scale fireplace may seem like a great idea until you factor in construction costs and engineering requirements to comply with local building codes. Your homeowners’ association may place restrictions on outdoor projects as well.

6. Ongoing Care and Maintenance

Some outdoor living areas require more care and maintenance than others. A swimming pool requires regular maintenance and additional insurance. A fire pit is less costly to maintain than a fireplace. A wood deck requires regular cleaning and staining to look its best. A full outdoor kitchen will require more attention than a simple BBQ grill.

7. Accessibility 

Accessibility should be planned for early on. The best outdoor living spaces can be accessed by everyone from toddlers to wheelchair users. It’s essential to think about who will be using the space. Will it be for both adults and children? Will anyone with mobility issues need to navigate the area? Adding paved walkways, ramps, and functional seating makes it easier for everyone to enjoy an outdoor living area.        

Should You Hire a Designer?

By now, it’s evident that there are a lot of factors to consider when planning an outdoor project. Unless you have experience in landscape design, interior design, or some related field, it can be overwhelming to do it independently. A professional landscape designer, landscape architect, or building contractor will know how to address your property’s unique challenges and guide you to notice things that the average homeowner could easily overlook on their own. 

Choose RainTight for Your Outdoor Living Needs 

RainTight has unique solutions that allow you to enjoy your existing deck, patio, or porch regardless of the weather. Our team has decades of experience designing and installing custom-made underdecking systems, screen rooms, and patio covers. We can create a custom design that increases the value of your home, blends seamlessly with your existing architecture, and provides years of enjoyment.

RainTight’s headquarters and manufacturing facility is located in O’Fallon, Missouri. Since 2007, we’ve served clients throughout the greater St. Louis metropolitan area. We are also pleased to serve clients in the Lake of the Ozarks region. Contact us online or call us at 636-242-8315 to discuss your needs and schedule a free consultation.


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