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With warmer weather upon us, and stay-at-home family dining becoming more of the norm, what better way to spend that time together than outdoors.

Enjoying this summer season can be perfectly paired with an outdoor kitchen, dining, or lounge space. The design industry is flooded with tips and tricks when it comes to designing your outdoor space. We’ve created a list of our favorite tips to consider when planning your outdoor retreat.

First, be sure to determine your needs for living outside. Do you entertain a lot? Do you enjoy grilling or are you a take-out kind of family? What are your culinary needs? Is a grill essential?  How much space do you have to spare in your backyard, your rooftop, or even your terrace? Ensure to also be realistic when it comes to how your outdoor space aligns with your investment size. If you want to keep costs low but want to maximize the use of your outdoor space, our next point will assist with this.

Materials are everything! When it comes to putting products outside, you should be very conscientious of durability and fade resistance. Be sure to do your research ahead of time. Composite decking, pea gravel, and teak pavers are popular applications for the base of your living space. All of these vary in terms of maintenance required as well as cost. If you are adding a bar area or a prep space with a countertop; stone, concrete, and properly sealed wood are the best materials to hold up against the elements. If you are investing in cabinetry for your outdoor space be sure to chat with a cabinet supplier on what lines are rated for outdoor use. Often stainless-steel cabinets and composite cabinetry are used, but there are dozens of products on the market today.

If your outside needs include lots of entertaining and many meals at home with the family, consider setting up an outdoor dining space and a kitchen center that will be able to house the ingredients you need for meal prepping. Limiting the amount of trips back and forth into the house is key when designing an outdoor kitchen. Just like interior kitchen design, outdoor spaces will have zones. Cooking zones, lounge areas, serving stations. You can merge these centers in very creative ways; check out Pinterest & Houzz to get inspired.

If you live in a climate that experiences all four seasons or even extremely high temperatures, a pergola or a roof structure are great ways to add shade to your cooking center. Shade will also extend the lifespan of your materials. A structure above your cooking station allows the possibility of a vent hood to be installed. This will pull out the exhaust and fumes from the grilling station. An enclosed area will also lend itself the ability to have hanging light fixtures. Consider how this space will look at night and how much light you will need to properly work in this space.  According to HGTV, it is wise to locate your outdoor living space close to your home’s electrical and plumbing lines so that it is easier to hook up exterior fixtures.

Even the smallest backyard can have a very functional outdoor kitchen, lounge or dining area. Be sure to remain realistic when it comes to your wants and needs for these spaces. Most importantly select materials for each zone that will last for as long as you see yourself living there. Outdoor living is a wonderful way to enjoy time with family creating memories you’ll remember for years to come.