As a Realtor®, I visit a lot of model homes. It keeps me on top of current trends…the types of homes people are buying, which floor plans are most popular, and the features and options that are in demand. One trend I started noticing even before the pandemic was the trend toward incorporating higher-end outdoor living spaces. Even though the weather here isn’t what it is, say, in southern California, there are creative ways to make outdoor spaces versatile year-round.

And with all of us spending much more time at home now — and even working from home — it’s nice to have an outdoor area you can escape to either for leisure or even work. So I thought I’d share some photos that might inspire you, since we’ll soon be entering the Fall…my favorite season and one of the best times of year to truly enjoy more temperate outdoor time!

Make Your Outdoor Living Space More Usable By Providing Shade

Shortly after our family built our home in South Riding almost 18 years ago, we had a high-quality retractable awning installed over our 12 x 20 deck. Without it, we really wouldn’t have ever been able to enjoy al fresco dining. The sun was just too intense, and an umbrella over our table just didn’t cut it! The retractable awning has held up really well, and we typically put it out on a daily basis to keep our kitchen sunroom from getting too hot.

Even better than a retractable awning is a more permanent roof structure over a deck or patio. This provides constant shade and a is a sturdier, upgraded option. It gives you a feeling of extending the living space of the house.

Here’s a simpler, less costly example that can be done over decking material or over a patio.

Expand Your Living Space with a Fully Enclosed “Outdoor” Room

Of course, you can take that a step further by enclosing the space into a screened-in porch or a “Florida room”/sunroom with windows all around. These spaces aren’t usually equipped with heat or air conditioning, but even in our area, you can probably get use out of them for about three-quarters of the year. You can install a fan and open the windows for some nice air circulation in the hotter months.

Fireplaces Warm Up the Space and Are Great When Entertaining

For even greater year-round use of non-enclosed outdoor space — and to add a “cozy” factor — you can incorporate a feature I’ve seen in many models lately…an outdoor gas or wood burning fireplace.

I’ve even seen this as an option on balconies of townhomes like the one shown below. The shaded space with both an overhead fan and fireplace is sure to get a lot of use, providing another socializing, dining, or working space for family members.

If you’re looking to add interest and just a bit of shade, a pergola is an option. This lower-cost type of structure also allows you to adorn your space with beautiful vines.

The Ultimate Outdoor Feature Right Now: A Pool!

Then, of course, you can go all-out and add today’s most coveted home feature: a pool. Pool contractors are supposedly very busy right now, but you could always get on someone’s schedule for early in the spring to enjoy a cooling pool next summer. Whether or not we are still in the middle of the pandemic, this is a nice feature that can add some value to your home and provide hours of relaxing enjoyment for the whole family.

As always, if you need any contractor recommendations for patios, decks, hardscaping, or pools, please reach out to me (Karen) at 703-585-3386 or [email protected] — or Maggie at 703-531-7363 or [email protected].