No dream home is truly complete until your exterior experience complements the ambiance and amenities of your carefully curated interior. So, if you’re going to do it, you need to do it right. Even more, If you invest the time, energy, and resources into creating an amazing outdoor living space, you simply must have a pool.
Within this comprehensive guide from BuildFBG, you’ll find:
- A walkthrough of the key locations in any outdoor area
- Popular features you could install each area, including pool features
- Thoughts about budgeting for your new backyard
Whether you’re creating a relaxing retreat for two, a lively locale for parties with friends and extended family, or something in between, you must start by figuring out what you like and what you want for your home. It begins by learning the five key elements of any outdoor living space.
The 5 Primary Parts of Any Outdoor Living Space
Let’s begin with a caveat: No one guide can help you design the perfect outdoor living space and pool area for your home. Your future outdoor space should be unique to your needs and the geographical reality of your backyard.
With that said, our guide will help you create a “vision board” of sorts so you can better outline what you want, what you don’t want, and the things you simply can’t live without. This walkthrough will focus on the following:
- The (outdoor) living room
- The kitchen
- The pool
- The landscaping
- The entertainment
Ultimately, you need to decide what works for you. Our job is to give you ideas so that you can make informed choices and make those choices happen.
The Living Room
By living room, we’re talking about the primary area(s) where you’ll entertain guests, relax with family and, frankly, just chill. Popular living room options include:
- A deck
- A patio
- A porch
What you build depends upon how much square footage you have and how much you want to dedicate to this space. If you build a large facility, you might not have room for a pool or other outdoor amenities — but you also might not want a pool for your family. Whatever kind of building you choose, it will be the center of your family’s outdoor activities, so make it the focal point of your design.
No matter where you live, it’s good to install some sort of protection from the elements. You might think you want to bask in the glorious sunshine and blue skies all the time, but there will be instances where you want to entertain outside even though it’s cloudy, cool, and blustery. You have a range of options to consider when installing shading:
- Full roof
Just make sure you pick something that fits the feel of your space and is easy to use.
There are two kinds of seating you have to account for: lounging and dining. While not every outdoor living space will have a dining area, everyone will need places for people to sit, eat, and relax. When picking the furniture for your outdoor oasis, keep in mind the following factors:
Yes — you want everything to look good — but if your seating falls apart quickly or no one wants to sit down in it because it’s uncomfortable, you’ve wasted money.
While you might not need a restaurant-level or resort-quality lighting scheme, you do need your family and guests to see what’s happening once the sun starts to set. This could be as simple as strings of weather-resistant LED lights around the frame of your patio or as complex as light fixtures installed throughout your pavilion. Just make sure it fits your space.
Honestly, there’s no way we could recommend the sort of decor you choose for your outdoor living space. It’s such a personal decision. We just want to make sure you think about how you decorate your space so that you can work with our in house designer effectively when the time comes.
This is a popular feature for any outdoor space, both for decorative and practical purposes. It can provide heat on cool and breezy nights, serve as a perfect place for smores, deliver a lovely visual element, or all three! Common options include:
- Fire feature
Whichever you choose, pay attention to how you will create fire and keep people safe.
In our experience, most people who want any sort of kitchen in their outdoor living space will install it in the living room area. However, we decided it deserved its own section because of the level of detail required. Just like the proper kitchen inside your home, your outdoor kitchen will become the focal point of the outdoor activity, so planning it requires special attention on your part.
As a point of information, we recommend that you exclusively purchase stainless steel equipment for your outdoor kitchen, as it’s durable and weather resistant.
If you’re going to have a kitchen outside, you should start with the following items:
You should also plan for counter space where you can prepare your food and cabinets for storing your outdoor eating and cooking equipment. You don’t want to run in and out of the house when entertaining because all of your supplies are inside.
Just like your indoor kitchen, you can always up the ante with additional gear that fits your personal cooking style.
- Gas grill
- Wood-fired grill
- Barbecue pit
You can also include a range of additional dining areas that extend beyond the lounging seating we discussed earlier. We’ve seen outdoor spaces feature both bar-style areas (both in and out of the pool) and full-on dining tables for eating.
If you’re grilling, swimming, and chilling outside with your friends and family, you definitely need refreshments! That means you need a place to store them:
- Fridge for water and non-alcoholic beverages
- Locked fridge for beer and alcoholic beverages
- Storage for snacks
Sure, you could keep this stuff in the kitchen area, but just like inside, cooks often don’t want interlopers interfering with the cooking just for a beverage.
Aside from the kitchen, your pool will be the centerpiece for any outdoor living space you create. It’s so cool and inviting, especially on warm summer days when you just want to relax after a long day or week. However, there are so many kinds of pools available on the market, and what you install depends upon your budget, style, and backyard geography. Thus, we want to help you focus on the forgotten details of pool planning.
Who Will Use It?
Besides the physical layout of your backyard, determining who will use the pool and how it will be used is the primary factor in choosing your pool. If you have a big family or throw big parties, you’ll need lots of space and multiple depths. If you keep things small and quiet, an infinity pool or single swimming lane might be all you need.
Our single piece of advice when designing for a pool will always be: “Plan for what you’ll do the most – not the exceptions.”
By water features, we’re referring to fountains, waterfalls, or anything decorative that heightens the physical beauty and aesthetic of your pool.
This is a welcome respite for adults who aren’t interested in the frequent craziness of the pool environment. The warm waters and pulsing jets will wash away the stress and tension of the day.
Yes, this might seem like a next-level feature for some people, but anyone who has a big pool and entertains often will find the benefit of this changing and storage area. It doesn’t have to be fancy (much less air-conditioned), but it’s a great way to keep the inside of your house clean and dry, especially if you install a shower outside so people can rinse off the chlorine.
We might be repeating ourselves here, but landscaping is yet another very personal decision. You know what will work for your personal aesthetic and what you’re willing to do for the maintenance of your yard. We’re simply here to help you account for the necessary elements of creating a pleasing outdoor living space.
Not all of us live somewhere where we can walk out the back door and gaze upon a beautiful vista, whether that be mountains, ocean, lake, or prairie. That’s where your landscaping comes into play. How you arrange the elements of your backyard goes a long way to creating a pleasant view that you can appreciate for years to come. We recommend asking yourself questions such as:
- What do I want to see when I look into my backyard from inside my house?
- What do I want to see when I stand in the middle of my yard?
- What do I want to see when I stand at the far end of my yard and look back toward the house?
In other words, we’re talking about sightlines and how it looks to your eyes. Just because the yard contains all the elements you like doesn’t mean you want them arranged in a jumbled fashion. You want your yard to be visually appealing, and you need to be clear when communicating with landscape architects.
We’re not just talking about the grass. By lawn, we’re talking about the literal surfaces people walk upon in your yard. The lawn you create depends upon the space and ambiance you want to cultivate. Options include:
- Grass for the classic look
- Stone for steps and paths
- Gravel for xeriscaping
- Wood chips for a woodland feel
- Dirt for a rustic feel
- Safe materials for play areas
To be clear, such surfaces in your lawn don’t mean unkempt chaos. They simply provide you choices, especially when it comes to the materials that surround your building, features, and amenities.
As you’d imagine, greenery refers to anything and everything green and natural that arises from your lawn. This is a wide-ranging area that includes:
- Decorative foliage
How you use those elements is entirely up to you, and they should serve as a complement to the rest of your outdoor living space. That is — unless you are a semi-professional gardener who plans to use the backyard as the focal point for your guests and events.
You might be thinking: “If I have a large pavilion with a full kitchen and a pool, why do I need anything else?” And that’s a reasonable question, but we would encourage you to keep a few other options in mind if you’re going all-out on your outdoor living space.
Do you need one? No. Would it be nice to have one so the family can watch sports and movies together when the weather is perfect? Absolutely.
The top brands all make outdoor-quality televisions, which you’ll want to purchase even if you have a fully covered pavilion. Common locations include above the fireplace, above the cooking area, and situated at the end of the dining table.
Other options include purchasing a projector and screen. This is definitely a cheaper option than a television — especially since it gives you more flexibility in terms of where you set it up — but it does mean you have to wait until it’s rather dark outside before you can watch anything.
No, we’re not talking about installing a full-scale DJ setup in your backyard (though that is always an option if you’re into that sort of thing). We’re talking about placing a few Bluetooth-capable speakers at strategic points around your backyard so you can connect your smartphone with your favorite streaming service.
You should already have your stash of board games inside, so you can bring them outside as needed. By “games,” we mean exclusively outside attractions that fit your space and your family’s interests. We’ve seen homes that include activities such as:
- Play structures
- Bocce ball
The ideas and options are endless, but they must match what you want to do.
We would be remiss if we didn’t talk about budget a little bit, even though we know that discussing specific numbers is impossible. The prices you can expect to see will depend upon a variety of factors:
- Cost of materials
- Cost of labor
- How much you think you can do yourself
- Time of year you want the work completed
- How quickly you want the work completed
What’s important is that you have a very clear idea of how much you are willing to spend in your overall home budget on your outdoor amenities. This is especially true if you want to create a whole-home experience that connects the interior and exteriors of your house.
Create the Outdoor Living Space and Pool of Your Dreams
Hopefully, this walkthrough of all the potential details, features, and elements that can go into your outdoor living space has been helpful. We instruct, guide, and advise you as a reader so you can make the right decisions for your life. We believe that you know best for your family, especially when it comes to what your family wants in the home.
At BuildFBG, our team of expert architects, designers, and construction professionals will listen to you before we start creating any plans. Our goal is to make your dreams of the perfect outdoor living space with a pool come to life by using only the features and amenities you want.