Tips to make the most of your home’s outdoor areas this summer
August 11, 2016
No one comes to Summit County to stay inside, so even the most beautiful homes are being designed with an emphasis on open-air experiences.
"People here like to enjoy their outside space year-round," said Lisa Yates, designer for Pinnacle Mountain Homes out of Breckenridge. "So catering to comfort in every season is definitely something to take into consideration, to be just as comfortable in the winter as you are in the summer."
Location is key when considering where to put an outdoor living space. Maximize sunshine and warmth by using south-facing areas, and ensure privacy by paying attention to where the neighbors' decks and patios are located.
Take full advantage of a home's existing natural surroundings as much as possible, enjoying the nestled feeling of a grove of aspen trees and the expansive quality of panoramic views. One common addition that Yates said she has seen recently with luxury homes is a "widow's peak" small deck near the very top of a home — it's not a lot of room for sitting, but it's the spot for the best scenery photos.
Add water features around a home to create more outdoor ambiance, although keep them well-controlled to prevent them from freezing. Composite decking material is often used as a low-maintenance option, as it's able to endure harsh climate shifts that roll through the mountains.
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Large capacity is a trend when it comes to hanging out outside the home. Owners are installing hot tubs that can fit 12 or more, and outdoor fireplaces or fire pit areas that can seat multiple people.
Create a hot springs feeling by stoning-in a hot tub that's built into the ground. Designers can work with landscape architects to make sure everything flows with the natural surroundings.
Yates said Pinnacle has also seen more requests for outdoor showers, whether for hot tub hygiene or al fresco bathing.
"Kids love these," she said. "It's a great way to do a quick rinse before jumping into the hot tub. Who doesn't love the idea of showering in a private, outdoor space?"
Additional lounge-worthy amenities include heated towel bars near the hot tub, as well as outdoor-specific televisions for movie nights or game days.
Covered areas are important to make outside sitting an option even when the weather gets variable.
"A lot of people enjoy watching a peaceful snowfall or watching a really cool thunderstorm — while being covered," Yates said. "And then it's also nice to have that fireplace or fire pit to add some warmth."
Nano doors slide all the way open, so a room in the house can be completely open to the outside. Imagine a lower level spa bath, with doors that open up directly to a hot tub. Yates said it's nice to have small decks off of bedrooms or an office to create a private and peaceful area for one or two people to hang out and enjoy fresh air.
"Make sure that the areas where people are going to be hanging out outside are close to the house," Yates said. "You want access to be easy, and to take as much advantage of the existing surroundings as possible without changing too much of it."
In addition to dedicated living and lounging areas, Yates said homeowners and renters want dedicated outdoor kitchens and dining areas.
"The capability to entertain and have people flow from inside to outside is what people want," she said.
Outdoor kitchens used to be just grills, but now are equipped with a full range of Viking appliances so hosts can cook and serve anything. Even more elaborate additions can include a full bar area, or a wood-burning pizza oven.
"More people are wanting to take advantage of our amazing summers and be able to do more than just grilling outside," Yates explained.
Comfortable seating areas can make for enjoyable dining during the day and in the evening. It's also important to consider a lighting plan once the sun goes down.
"If you are going to entertain outside at night, make sure there is plenty of lighting, based on what you want to do," explained Yates. "It may just be hanging out around the fire pit and relaxing, but if you are going to be dining, then lighting is an important element to consider."
High-end homes tend to use hard-wired lighting, heating and sound features that are incorporated into covered patio or deck areas, rather than stand-alone lights, heaters or speakers.
The outdoors are entertaining on their own, offering opportunities for star-gazing and making s'mores by the fire pit. Homeowners and guests staying in luxury homes can enjoy the benefits of high-end amenities, paired with the simple pleasures that the mountains can o
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