Formerly viewed as fertile soil for daisies and storage sheds, today the backyard is a tool for increased return on investment (ROI), with elaborate and enjoyable outdoor rooms. These outdoor rooms have become the space formerly known as the backyard as homeowners expand their living quarters into the garden.
“I’m all about creating spaces that people live in and not just look at,” says award-winning landscape designer and horticulturist Jamie Durie (www.jamiedurie.com), host of HGTV’s The Outdoor Room. “These days, outdoor rooms are really extensions of our living space and by creating a kitchen or a dining room or a sunken fire pit area, you’re creating a reason to get outside and you’re building architecture that evokes social interaction and a connection with plants.”
Durie says he looks at a landscape the same way he looks at a house. “The only difference is that I tear the roof off the house and then I replicate the floor plan of that, walls and all, outdoors.”
Rooms with a view
Outdoor rooms create a magical place to commune with friends and nature, but they also add a huge value in terms of ROI to the home. Homebuyers are entranced with the idea of a well-manicured and thought-out backyard, as a study from Clemson University found that homeowners typically see 100 percent or more ROI they put into landscaping. They have become an attractive concept to potential homebuyers, which can translate into more money when it’s time to sell your home. Whereas Durie once told his clients to spend somewhere between 5 and 7 percent of the value of their property on an outdoor renovation to make sure not to over capitalize, he now recommends spending more. He even has clients gladly spending up to 30 percent of the value of their home to enjoy a higher quality of life, and, eventually, to enjoy getting the money back that they put into the room ... most of the time with a profit!
“What creates a successful outdoor room is freedom and good architectural planning,” says Durie, who notes that homebuyers are often attracted by well-thought-out outdoor areas. “An outdoor kitchen is somewhere you literally prepare food with a gas grill and a prep area, and the greater outdoor room is where you relax, come together, interact and dine. There’s a huge value to having both.”
The most popular outdoor room components include a porch or sectioned-off area of grass with a built-in gas fire pit (a must-have for any outdoor room) surrounded by weatherproof couch-like seating, side tables and even a rustic coffee table.
Outdoor kitchens have become a bit more elaborate over the years as well, adding to the traditional patio table with full-size wooden dining tables set beneath wooden trellises. Most kitchens now include a high-end gas grill — arguably the most attractive feature for homebuyers — built into a stone structure that includes a prep area for cutting meat and vegetables, and even built-in mini-fridges to add to the authentic kitchen feel. Durie strongly believes native plants interspersed throughout the permanent outdoor room fixtures are crucial to give the full effect of a natural setting, adding that well-planned landscaping is the absolute key to creating a lasting outdoor room that will provide enjoyment in the short-term and at least a 100 percent ROI in the long-term.
By Kristy Alpert. Reprinted with permission from Natural Living magazine, copyright 2011 PRISM Media Group
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