In 2020, most of the world headed inside for extended periods of time. For many of us with busy lives outside of the house, this was a wake-up call. Many people realized they needed more out of their homes. They needed more space, utilized in a better way. Designing outdoor living spaces for responsible gatherings became a priority. Now these same spaces are transforming the way we live and work at home. Here’s how.
Enjoy Louisiana with Outdoor Living Spaces
Louisiana is lucky to have some of the most beautiful weather in the U.S. year-round. Even steamy summers can be enjoyed in well-designed outdoor living spaces. It’s easy to laissez les bon temps rouler most months out of the year. Consider how an outdoor living space could add to your enjoyment for:
- Christmas Day celebrations
- New Year’s Eve cocktails
- Halloween haunted house
- An intimate Valentine’s Day dinner
- Mardi Gras post-parade fête with the krewe
- St. Patrick’s Day pre-parade breakfast
- At-home football “tailgate”
- Movie nights
- Family cookouts
- Crawfish boils
In addition to celebrations and parties, how we use our homes has also changed permanently, with many people spending more time in the house for both work and play. For people who have transitioned to working at home full-time, an outdoor living space provides a nice break from work. With a strong internet connection, you can even use it as a meeting site or proper “Zoom room.”
Do Outdoor Living Spaces Add Value to a Home?
Well-designed, thoughtful outdoor living spaces not only expand the possibilities of your home but also offer a good return on investment (ROI) when it’s time to sell.
Arguably more important than a positive financial return is the mental and emotional benefits of adding outdoor space. In 2020, 78% of homeowners upgraded their outdoor space, and in 2021 that trend seems to be on pace for a similar bump.
It’s clear that outdoor living space is good for more than the wallet, but it’s crucial to choose the upgrades that fit your family and your life.
What Are the Different Types of Outdoor Living Spaces?
The type of outdoor living space you choose really depends on how much space you have to work with and how you’d like to use it. There is no sense in building an elaborate outdoor kitchen if you’re the world’s biggest fan of takeout.
Fortunately, there are many different ways you can transform your outdoor space.
Sunrooms expand your living space and can be used for indoor gardening, dining, and other leisure activities or hobbies. They feature walls that are mostly windows or glass, allowing ample sunshine to stream through.
The ROI for sunrooms depends on the type of sunroom. For three-season living, a sunroom is not heated or cooled but provides enclosed space that blends the indoor and outdoor spaces. Four-season porches are heated and cooled and add more square footage to your home.
Of the two types of sunrooms, a four-season sunroom gets a higher ROI when it’s time to sell, but costs more to complete. If you are adding to a historic building, your costs might be even higher, which can either elevate or deplete your ROI, depending on the market.
Patios are one of the most affordable outdoor living spaces. These spaces generally consist of a low deck (no stairs) or flat stone surface. They can connect to the house, or they can be set in another area of the yard. How you situate your patio depends largely on how you’ll use it. If you are looking to create an outdoor retreat away from the bustle of your house, consider a covered patio with comfortable seating tucked in a far corner of the yard.
Want to add to your dining area? Attach a simple patio to the house off the kitchen. Add a pergola to extend its use in all kinds of weather. You can drape mosquito netting for protection, too.
It does not take much time, effort, or money to carve out a designated space for seating, dining, and conversation, but the rewards are plentiful. Patios with lighting and adequate space that doesn’t take up too much of the backyard can offer an 80% ROI.
Outdoor kitchen and dining areas
Your new outdoor kitchen and dining area can be as elaborate or as simple as you’d like. Design it with a space for a wood-burning oven for homemade pizza nights or stick with a gas-powered stove built into ample countertops. You can even add refrigeration, multiple seating areas, and an island with running water for easy prep and clean-up.
The numbers vary depending on the cost and the features you include, but expect between 55% and 200% ROI on an outdoor kitchen built with quality materials, plenty of counter space, and a seating area.
Kid or pet play areas
Kids and pets cooped up in the house is a recipe for disaster. Adding kid and pet play areas like jungle gyms or kennels can help release some of that pent-up energy, but take note: these features are specialized and may limit potential homebuyers in the future.
If you do add kid play areas, make sure you build with growth in mind. An adaptable play structure that can change as your kids grow up means more years of enjoyment.
A pool is one of the most popular types of outdoor living space, and they can be wonderful — if you don’t expect to get your money out of it. At the high end, homeowners who install a swimming pool, no matter how great, will only see a 50% return on their investment. And if your pool is overly small, overly large, or overly complicated? That ROI shrinks to just 7%.
But if you love to beat the Louisiana summer heat and plan to gather frequently for poolside fun with family and friends, this might be a great investment for your family.
Recreational spaces like a golf putting green, basketball hoop, or other sport-specific features don’t generally offer an excellent ROI but can be purpose-built for families who need them and plan to stay put for a while.
Conservation areas or gardens
If you have a green thumb, Louisiana is a great place to live. With an exceptionally long growing season and ample sunshine, the Gulf South helps many plants thrive in our climate.
Adding conservation areas and food-producing outdoor living spaces are beautiful and functional ways to enjoy being outside year-round. Consider water features and perennial plantings to attract beneficial insects, or design walking paths and seating features to change the view.
Outdoor movie theater
Missing the cinematic experience but not ready to head back inside? Watching movies with small children who like to wiggle and squirm? Consider adding an outdoor movie theater.
Inflatable screens and Bluetooth projectors bring the technology. Add a low deck and comfortable seating, with plenty of space to stretch out underneath the stars.
While there are no solid numbers on the ROI for this type of outdoor living space in a residential renovation, consider most of this type of space is portable and can simply be moved to your next home when you sell.
How Do You Make a Beautiful Outdoor Living Space?
Regardless of what you choose, creating a beautiful outdoor living space follows these six basic steps.
- Decide how you’d like to use your space and its purpose: The outdoor space you build depends on the space you have and what your goals are.
- Work on a layout (or hire a professional to design it): Layout includes how your outdoor living space is oriented to your house (or where it is attached).
- Build a budget: The budget determines not only the building materials but also the finishing touches.
- Get quotes: Take the time to get three or more quotes from reputable contractors in Louisiana.
- Schedule the build: Note that contractors may offer special pricing during less busy times.
- Accessorize, and enjoy: Add finishing touches like furniture and textiles, and enjoy your new space.
Note that some outdoor living spaces might require special permits. Check with your local building codes or hire an experienced contractor to handle all of these details for you.
We Are Your New Orleans Contractors
MLM Incorporated is a Louisiana contractor enjoying the beautiful Gulf South and working hard for its residents for the past 15 years. We work with residential and commercial clients across the region to design and build the outdoor living spaces of their dreams.
If you’re ready to make more of Louisiana’s great outdoors, or just have questions about how to get started, get in touch with MLM to talk about outdoor living spaces today!