By Michael Higgins
One of the best ways to add living space to your home is to increase the outdoor areas, which can be done rather inexpensively. So, what can you do to your home to take full advantage of our wonderful climate? Develop your outdoor space, don't ignore it. It's an essential part of enjoying the beautiful climate we have here in the Valley.
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Shading. In Arizona, one of the first things to consider is shading your outdoor space. Some creative ways to accomplish this are through the use of awnings, umbrellas, tree placement and structures. Understanding the orientation of your outdoor space is paramount in creating a comfortable environment. For instance, during the winter months, north-facing backyards tend to have more morning and afternoon shade, while south-facing backyards will have more sun in the afternoon. You should also ask yourself, what time of the day and year will you be using the space?
2. Elements. When designing outdoor spaces consider the elements?water, plants, seating, televisions, music, barbeques, armadas and appliances. These elements add function, aesthetics, personality and entertainment value. You want the space to be beautiful, but it should also be fun, user-friendly and functional for the entire family to enjoy.
3. Romance. Along with a family-friendly backyard, many couples want their space to elicit romance, intrigue, passion and fascination. You can achieve this with candles, fireplaces or fire pits and direct and indirect lighting such as landscape lights, dimmers and sconces.
4. Continuity. A few extras to keep in mind?and these are the details that'll make your backyard space uniquely yours?consider continuity, truly bringing the indoors, outside. For instance, opening up exterior walls with expandable glass doors, or extending your indoor flooring material, outdoors?this brings a sense of continuity to your two spaces, creating one, large continuous space. Then, by adding misting systems, fans, fountains, lush vegetation and patio furniture that mimics the indoor look, will bring it all home.
Michael Higgins, of Higgins Architects in Scottsdale, has specialized in residential architecture since 1994 in a wide variety of historical styles and has been widely published in architectural journals throughout the southwest.
Infolink: Higgins Architecture
Photo Courtesy: Jon Denker and David Zilly