Let’s Take This Outside: Creating the Perfect Outdoor Space

Patios, fire pits, dining areas, barbecues, kitchens, and swimming pools: A fun and functional outdoor space is an important element to any home. And despite the Bay Area’s temperate year-round climate, not everyone in the region is lucky enough to have a lot of outdoor room, so optimizing the use of that space is crucial.38tomahawk_sm

“Indoor/outdoor flow is important,” one of Pacific Union’s top East Bay real estate  professionals based in Alameda says. “Access out to the yard is important, but the size of the yard is less important than the functionality and usability of the space.”

Outdoor wants and needs are definitely unique to the type of community you live in, especially considering the Bay Area’s well-known microclimates.

“For my San Francisco clients, outdoor space is not typically very important,” another Pacific Union top real estate professional says. “But, for my Marin clients, it definitely is.”

Sunlight, flat space, and quiet are the most important elements to a desirable outdoor space, he adds.

A recent Houzz survey showed that 75 percent of homeowners planning an outdoor home-improvement project were focused on overhauling some aspect of their backyards, so you are not alone in this venture.

When designing, decorating, and furnishing your outdoor space, here are some questions to ask yourself that will help you make decisions:

Will you be entertaining in this space?

If so, how many people do you want to accommodate, and what will you be doing? For instance, will you want to eat dinner with a group of people? If so, a long table and chairs might be a better choice than outdoor lounges and couches, which would be perfect if you just want a comfortable hangout zone where you can chat and relax. Also, have a plan for storing your outdoor furniture during the typically rainy winter months.

Do you want to be able to prepare food?

Do you want a designed space for a barbecue or do you want a full-on outdoor kitchen? Check out this Houzz article that discusses “14 Ways to Make Your Grill Setup Better.” Along with killer photos, the article offers things to think about, like adequate shade, proper lighting, and making the space unique.

How can you work with the lay of the land?

Not everyone has a flat yard. You may have to get creative to make spaces work. Terraces are the most popular way that homeowners alter a sloping yard, creating a series of flat areas. This SFGate article will tell you what you need to know about terracing a yard. This Pinterest page holds lots of photographic inspiration on the subject.

To pool or not to pool?

Pools are beautiful! Pools are fun! Pools also require a lot of upkeep. If you have the space and are considering installing a swimming pool, make sure you know what you are getting into. HomeAdvisor offers information about how much it costs to maintain a pool, along with maintenance and repair details. If you are committed to caring for a swimming pool, you and your family will have years of entertainment and enjoyment to look forward to.

Creating the perfect outdoor space is an exciting venture for a new (or not so new) homeowner. Remember to do your homework. Take inspiration from friends and neighbors. Ask them what they like or don’t like about their outdoor areas. Go into this project with a clear budget and a list of essentials and nice-to-haves. Need some inspiration? The Internet is full of advice, photos, and information.

For instance:

This will be a personal project, because no household uses their outdoor spaces in the same way.  From adding a chair or two or buying the perfect barbecue setup to building an outdoor kitchen or installing a swimming pool — the possibilities are endless. Whatever you decide to do with your yard, make sure you take the time to enjoy your new outdoor space, since spending time outside is good for your health.

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