Everyone needs their own spot in the sun (or under the stars). It doesn’t have to be big—sometimes, a space that’s just enough for a chair, a book, and a cup of coffee will do. Other times, a space that acts as an extension of your living room or kitchen is the goal; a place for a sofa, a fireplace, and a nightcap. Today, Mike Dunn, president of Dunn Lumber, is talking with our friend Ben Middlemiss, president of London Design Build, and Jason Cameron, contractor and DIY TV host, about how people can make the most of their outdoor living space—even if they live in a place like Seattle that’s cool and damp most of the year.

How do you enjoy an outdoor area if you live in a cool or rainy area like Seattle?

Roofs and heaters are the best way to maximize the enjoyment of an outdoor area. An outdoor living area that’s uncomfortably cold is just as unpleasant as an outdoor living area that has no protection from the sun.

Heat-wise, look to infrared heaters. A fireplace will add ambiance but won’t add much warmth to the space. Unlike a fireplace, Infrared heaters provide heat that is unaffected by strong winds and other elements, which means if you can see the lightbulb, you can likely feel the heat.

Many outdoor living projects feature some sort of structure attached to the back of the house. A roof with skylights and window coverings is a good option—it’ll protect you and your outdoor living area from the rain in the wintertime, and it’ll add some shade in the summertime. It’s a good investment for protecting your space, your furniture, and your accessories, and ensures you can use your outdoor living space all year long.

What are other ways to enjoy an outdoor living space year-round?

The kitchen is the heart of every home, no matter how big, small, new or old it is. When you connect your kitchen to an outdoor living area, the space quickly doubles or even triples, which means you can host more people and expand your home’s footprint. Consider putting in a NanaWall (big glass doors that fold back on themselves) or sliding doors for an open floor plan that gives that resort-style outdoor living feel. 

Should I add a water feature to my outdoor living space? 

Water features are common. The key is to choose the right water feature for your yard. There’s nothing like the tranquil sound of trickling water, but water features can be a maintenance (and financial) headache. Plan well—knowing something like how hard or soft the water is (it can discolor) can make a big difference. Self-contained, hard-basin, trickling water features are a good place to start—elaborate waterfalls are a bit harder to keep up with. That said, choose where you want to invest your time and energy in your yard, and invest wisely.

Check out the first two installments of our outdoor living series for more outdoor living inspiration and stay tuned for the rest of this series as Mike, Ben, and Jason continue to discuss how people can create, enjoy, and make the most of their outdoor living spaces.

Looking for more backyard patio ideas or to get started on an outdoor living project? Come visit your local Dunn Lumber for expert advice and friendly assistance to bring your project to life.