The Backyard Living Room – Great Living & Awesome for Resale Value!

Bring the inside of the house outdoors and increase the usable living area by adding a cozy living room and fully functional kitchen in the backyard.

According to the AIA Home Design Trends Survey, there was a huge increase in the popularity of outdoor backyard living spaces and upscale landscaping. Homeowners are now spending more time, attention and money on the exterior spaces of their homes. The survey revealed that two thirds of architects saw a sharp increase in the number of clients who wanted outdoor kitchens and dramatic exterior living spaces.

It gives you more usable square footage, increases the pleasure factor of home ownership, and of course, adds to the resale value of your home!

The only limits to this project is budget, so let’s take a closer look at two contrasting budgets and see what can be achieved with each amount:

Moderate Budget ($5,000)

A combination outdoor kitchen and eating area can be achieved on a $5K budget, especially if you do most of the work yourself.

  • Look for moderately priced outdoor furniture, such as resin wicker, that still has the aesthetic appeal but will not cost a fortune like teak will. A mid-range resin wicker set with outdoor cushions, including a loveseat, two chairs, and coffee table will cost in the region of $750.
  • Purchase a ready-made kitchen island that either has a built-in barbecue or has a space to insert one. An island will cost approximately $1,400 depending on the counter top materials used. If the budget is limited, allocate a good chunk of money for the purchase of an excellent BBQ grill.
  • If shade is required, don’t skimp on a cheap gazebo. Go for one that has quality outdoor fabric that is protected from fading and sturdy wrought iron wall ends. It is worth the $500 price tag and will last for many years.
  • The remainder of the project budget should be spent on a dining set. Before purchasing, think about the mood you are trying to achieve with your outdoor living space. For a cosmopolitan look, consider an outdoor pub set in steel and glass. For the French Country or English garden feel, look for tables and chairs in stained wood or wrought iron that will age gracefully over time. A quality set, either in wood or metal will cost in the region of $2,000.
  • Finally, add a bar fridge, area rug, and chimenea to complete the look all of which can be purchased at any home improvement store for a combined cost of about $600.

Big Budget ($15,000)

Admittedly, the budget for a high end outdoor living space can balloon well beyond the $15,000 range. However, the purpose is to make it achievable for the average family, thus this big budget of $15K. Within this budget, a nice large living area with a separate outdoor kitchen can be achieved.

  • A built-in counter unit with grill, sink, warming oven and stone work surfaces can be special ordered through a specialty retailer for $3,800-$6,500 depending upon the quality of grill purchased and the type of work surfaces ordered.
    When considering outdoor furniture, nothing offers understated elegance, durability and comfort more than oiled teak. A large family table, six chairs and a couple of steamer style lounge chairs would be an excellent start to achieving a great look. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $3,500-$5,700 for these pieces.
  • Next comes the outdoor hearth. Many ready-made models which are made of real brick and stone have hit the market. They vary greatly in price but are in the $1,500 range. A local contractor could also be contacted about creating a custom outdoor fireplace.
  • Finally, install a few free-standing propane heaters, a large area rug for the living area, some lovely stoneware dishes and some occasional chairs for guests. These final touches will cost $1,800-$2,500 and the new and improved outdoor look will be complete.

Modest or extravagant, one of the nicest things about creating an outdoor living space is that it is one of the few home renovations that can be a work in progress. It can easily be completed in stages without disrupting family living, possibly allowing for a bigger budget project over time.

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