On this page I continue my interview with Steve Ostrowski on installing outdoor living rooms....
Q. What are some of the less obvious benefits to homeowners in erecting structures that will serve as outdoor living rooms?
A. The emphasis in outdoor living rooms is on comfort, luxury and lifestyle. The practical benefits are that adaptable shade is a critical element of sustainable building design endorsed by NASA. Studies show a south facing patio door covered with an awning in the summer and uncovered for sun in the winter can save up to 70% of the energy cost to heat and cool that room over the year. Another critical benefit is that everything under the canopy in the outdoor living room is protected from the sun’s UV rays. Hence the risk of skin cancer is diminished, while the life of the deck and furniture is extended.
Q. What are some popular colors currently being used in outdoor living rooms? How should homeowners and/or their designers decide which colors to use for building projects?
A. The drama of black makes it among the most popular awning fabric colors. However, there is regionalization in this. Forest green is most popular in New England, while Terra Cotta rules in Arizona. If there is a popular color without geographic boundaries, it is beige.
Q. How would adding an outdoor living room affect real-estate value? Have you conducted studies or gathered this kind of information in a specific way?
A. Currently, we have not conducted such studies. However an outdoor living room is the back side of "curb appeal." An addition of an outside living room can add value if it is in good taste, reflects the architecture of the home, has the correct proportions, and is in good repair, just as any interior room.
Q. Discuss the relative importance of design and function for an outdoor living room.
A. Design without functionality is not good design. Outdoor living rooms that have sun and rain protection need a little more consideration of factors, such that the finished space can result in endless pleasure or nagging nuisances. Planning is the key. Outdoor living rooms are used differently than decks with patio umbrellas. Many homeowners enjoy reading and computing in outdoor living rooms, with the similar comforts of indoor rooms. So, be sure to consider prevailing winds and the potential need for a wind / privacy screen. Be aware that drip lines will occur at the edge of the canopy. It’s terrible if the drip line lands on top of a railing when another 2 inches of width can have the drip line outside the railing. Consider the location of the sun as it arcs through the day and how morning sun is nice but afternoon sun is too hot. That can adjust the location of your sitting vs. doing areas.
Q. Should the entire outdoor living room be installed at the same time? How difficult is it to add new structures or additions to existing outdoor living rooms?
A. Adding structures after the fact is not difficult. However, you’ll want to consider the locations of things like sliding doors, stairs, paths, wires, trees, etc. to make sure that the first half of your project allows the second half to happen. A common problem is the chimney of an outdoor fireplace getting in the way of a shade pergola canopy, or any taller item for that matter.
Another problem homeowners face is using patio stones for a base that can’t properly anchor a shade pergola and the other items needing foundation. Later, they need to be pulled up so post holes can be sunk when a 4” concrete slab would have been best. Planning the layout and foundation first is often thought of as ideal, but later installations of outdoor living room components are very possible with the right products, direction and information.
I continue my interview with Steve on Page 3, where we discuss the heart of many outdoor living rooms: the pergola….