Create an Outdoor Living Room

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Wow! What a View!

It doesn't matter how big your backyard is, from the 10-acre backyards of the midwest to the tiny balconies of Los Angeles or New York, your outdoor space can be turned into an extra "room" of your home. And just in time for summer!

How much space do I need?

First, determine the amount of space you have available for this project. It may be that it's just a few square feet, or, you might be lucky enough to have acreage at your disposal!

Either way, determine what activities you plan on doing outside. Are you looking for a personal retreat - somewhere to just "get away?" Consider adding things that are special and 'relaxing' to you. Whether it's speakers outside so you can enjoy your favorite tunes while zoning out, or wind chimes, bird feeders, or whatever will put you in a state of calm.
Are you looking for a place to entertain family and friends? If so, you may want to consider adding more furnishings. You'll want to be certain that there are enough places for everyone to sit comfortably.
Are you looking for an outdoor dining area that's just a bit away from ordinary? If dining is the way you want to go, than you'll want to be sure your choices reflect this. You might consider adding an outdoor refrigerator, wine chiller or the ever popular keg-erator (a refrigerator made to chill a keg of beer)!
Whatever your choices may be, make certain to think them through as best you can, as they will help determine how you move forward.

Can I Bring My Couch Outside?

OutdoorThe next step to creating any outdoor space into a comfortable retreat is to make sure that your furniture is, well, comfortable! Are the cushions to your outdoor chairs and couch sagging or falling apart? If so, purchase new ones. You'll be happily surprised by the recent influx of outdoor choices that are available in most home retail stores. It's way beyond patio furniture!
For those with a more creative flare, consider making your own outdoor furniture! There are a wide variety of choices and styles to choose from. But, when deciding what materials and patterns to go with, try to make sure they are weatherproof, otherwise, you'll have to drag them in and out every time you want to use them.
What about the frames of your outside living room set? Is the paint chipping or the wood splintering? If so, a fresh coat of paint can bring new life to them, and even help extend their lives another season or two. Just remember that when painting your furniture, you'll want to be sure you prepare it for a life outside of your home. Whether metal or wood, be sure to sand the furniture to give it a smooth surface, and then follow with a primer and paint that is made to endure the outdoors. (Exterior latex or oil-based paints are great options.)
JANE TIP: Remember, you'll want your outdoor living space to be as comfortable as possible for as long as possible, so choose materials that are water proof, rust proof and fade proof. But, if you insist on using non-weather friendly materials, use a large footlocker or old trunk outside to store them in. The best part is that it can double as an outdoor coffee table, too!

The Stars Just Aren't Bright Enough

OutdoorAn outdoor living room is twice as enjoyable when you can enjoy it at night! To help make this that much more inviting, you'll want to be sure to choose the right kind of lighting. It can not only help set a mood, but greatly enhance the beauty.
There are a number of do-it-yourself lighting kits on the market today that can be installed in a matter of minutes. Try to find those lights that don't have a need for external power, such as those charged on solar energy. You might also consider using old light fixtures such as a chandelier that you can hang directly from a tree! The older they are the more character they can add to your room.
Lastly, adding small white lights to your trees or plants can make the room "pop" with flair.

Make Your Own Rain!

OutdoorDuring the blistering hot days of summer, what could be more refreshing than the sounds of a bubbling spring? Installing a nice water feature is easy and will surely enhance your state of mind. Take into you account your budget and style choices, finding the perfect fountain can be a relatively fun experience. Most fountains come with installation instructions that are usually very straightforward.
For those a bit more ambitious, you might consider making your own water feature out of ordinary objects such as pottery vases, pipes, and anything else your imagination can dream up. Most local home supply stores will have a variety of fountain pump systems to generate the water through, which are easy to install and maintain.



SPF 100

OutdoorFor long summer days... and nights, you'll want to be outside as much as possible. But, the sun is still dangerous, and unless you're covered in head to toe sun-repelling clothes and/or sunscreens, you'll want to seek out some shade.
When considering the placement of your outdoor living room, take a look around and see if you can't find a "natural" shade source. A canopy of trees is an excellent and inviting place for many outdoor living rooms.
Buy plants or an umbrella or two to ensure you can spend countless hours outside without worrying about sunburns, as well as providing a much-needed retreat from the sweltering heat.
Remember, you'll want to protect you AND your furnishings, so try to find a shade source that will ensure both are protected.

A Last Word...

OutdoorUltimately, you want everyone to enjoy the great outdoors, so make it safe. If you use candles or other flammable lighting, make certain to take the proper precautions to prevent candles from blowing over or catching fire on flowing materials.
Make certain any railings whether on your deck or balcony are strong enough to withstand anyone leaning against them. When arranging your furnishings, consider placing them in such a manner that will discourage anyone sitting atop the railing or balcony walls.
When choosing materials, either for your decking or furnishings, consider "non-splintering" alternatives especially if you have small children. Plastic, rubber and vinyl are excellent products for an outdoor living room as they are much more durable and can withstand the elements.
Now that your outdoor living room is all set up, now it's time to get to living in the outdoors! Enjoy!
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I would like to make a water fall out of stones (field stone) and where the water would fall, make a pond about 10x4 or 10x6 in width and I don't know how deep it needs to be, can I make that? Do I need help? PLEASE ADVICE Essie Tucker

I want to do the exact same thing! I was married in front of a beautiful man-made waterfall that operated by a switch. I'd like to put the same thing in my yard (woman-made). The height I want is almost six feet tall. I want to provide a spot for future weddings at my inn (new venture). Hope we both get answers soon. Liadan

i have a balcony that is south facing and actually way too hot during summer days, but nice for evenings. any suggestions for plants that wont' die in 100 degree heat w/ no shade? it's a VERY small space but i would love to use plants to make it a little more private. the only suggestion i've gotten so far were more like small fir type trees/shrubs. can't remember the name.... thanks for any advice.

I have some suggestions for you for very hot weather plants. I also live in 100 degree heat and my porch faces the west. I have petunias (variety of color) in hanging baskets. Except they do have to be watered everyday. I also feed (miracle grow or thrive) them weekly so they will produce more blooms. I also pinch off dead blooms, which will make more and fuller. I also have hibiscus in pots and they produce a new bloom everyday. They are more draught tollerent. Hibiscus also comes in a short tree, which are just as nice. Also, Mandeville, which is an ivy with beautiful blooms. I put mine in a pot with a trellis in the dirt and wrapped it around and it took off. I live just north of Houston,Tx and all of these plants have done very well for me. (100 to 110 degrees in summer) I hope this helps you!

i was def. still thinking more plants than flowers because not only is it hot here, but very very dry....high desert of colorado at foothills of mountains. (plus i'm not so into the pollen aspect of flowers due to allergies!) so if you have to water every day in ultra humid houston that makes me hesitate. but i'm super interested in the ivy! love ivy and i will certainly check it out! thanks again!

PLEASE ADVISE - How do I manage electricity for a new outdoor project and keep it (and me) safe from the elements

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Hi dmr, Are you needing electricity to power your tools for the project, or an actual electrical box? Let me know, I may be able to help.