Expanding Your Home Outdoors

Outdoor decor and ideas for the home

As summer approaches the days always seem to get busier and busier as the kids get out of school, vacations are planned and we generally awaken from winter hibernation. With warm days on the horizon, it's the perfect time to start planning for a space that will allow you to take full advantage of the outside world.

Outdoor “rooms” — such as patios, barbecue areas and even kitchens — allow you to cook, dine and relax while simultaneously enjoying both nature and the comforts of your own home.

Since New Hampshire has a relatively short span of time to tackle outdoor projects, Liam Cargill of Cargill Construction recommends getting a head start. By beginning your design early in the colder months you can actually end up saving money. It will also allow you time to decide what products, designs and layouts you want and to add a personal style. No two projects, adds Cargill, are ever designed the same way, and each requires careful planning.

One of Cargill’s projects, the patio featured above, is what he describes as “timeless,” with its classic lake look. One feature special to the design is the custom aluminum radius handrail, which wraps around the patio area.

This patio also has an outdoor kitchen that includes a warming oven, warming drawer, rotisserie, refrigerator and grill — great for summer entertaining. Cargill explains that “outdoor kitchens bring people together. They allow the host to be interacting with guests and still be able to cook and serve.”

By Jordan Associates Inc.
Courtesy photo

Timothy Jordan of Jordan Associates Inc. says outdoor kitchens are becoming more popular here in New Hampshire.  And no wonder — homeowners can get both function and beauty in kitchens like the one here. 

Many of Jordan’s designs and most outdoor designs in general use stone, as it both reflects New Hampshire’s character and can withstand less-than-ideal weather. Plants that surround the cooking area are also dual-purpose — they afford the homeowners a little more privacy since the walls of a traditional indoor kitchen are gone. Plants can act as both visual and noise barriers.

If you’re planning to host larger groups outside, Jordan advises, think about creating several smaller seating areas rather than one large patio. Pictured below is an example — the curved stone bench overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee creates a smaller nook where a few guests can relax. This space also takes advantage of the natural breeze from the lake and features a firepit for cooler nights.  

By Jordan Associates Inc.
Courtesy photo

Summer isn’t the only season when outdoor spaces can be used for entertaining. Other great features to consider are wood-burning stoves and firepits, which allow homeowners to use the new entertaining space all year long.

Cargill explains that stoves are an important element of the design since they allow homeowners to extend the amount of time that they can be outside. That helps to justify the cost of construction. An added bonus, Cargill says, is that you don’t have to worry about cleaning them like you would with an indoor fireplace. 

Picture getting all bundled up in the middle of winter, sitting by the warm stove and appreciating the snowy scenery around you without chattering teeth and frozen fingers.

Think about the placement of the furniture while you’re still in the preliminary stages of planning. If you’re going to have a fireplace,  for example, it’s important to make sure that everyone has a good view. Another of Cargill’s design tips is to consider the function of the space. For example, if you’re going to be entertaining, make sure you have enough square footage to comfortably hold a larger group.

No matter how many square feet you have or where you put your furniture, one thing that is always necessary is lighting. “Outdoor lighting

By Jordan Associates Inc.
Courtesy photo

is one of the most underrated and critical elements. It allows you to fully enjoy the atmosphere, even at night,” explains Cargill. He suggests down lighting, which won’t cause light pollution and will allow you to see the stars at night.

Lighting not only makes your space more visually appealing, but is necessary when it comes to safety as well. As Cargill says, when you really think about your space at night, you need to be able to see everything, down to the very last step.

One thing to keep in mind when it comes to lighting, advises Jordan, is that winter weather conditions are not always ideal for every element of an outdoor space. The lights on the firepit seating area that overlooks Lake Winnipesaukee are removable, keeping them safe from damage during particularly bad storms.

By Design Works
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Jim DiNovo, owner of Design Works, also finds lighting to be an important feature. “Customers are always amazed by the amount of options they have with lighting,” he says. The possibilities, he adds, range from LED lights in pools and landscape lighting to recessed lighting and ceiling fans over a patio.

DiNovo adds that water features are finding favor here in New Hampshire. Not only are they visually appealing, he adds, they can add a lovely audible element to your outdoor “rooms” as well.

Design Works has also been working on some new concepts including a “pondless system,” which is a plastic basin filled with river stones that retain water, allowing the pump to recalculate it. 

The right balance of “indoor-outdoor elements” will help you and your guests bring the comfort of your living room into your yard.

In the end, DiNovo says, “It needs to be able to draw you outside and it needs to be defined in a way that makes you comfortable.”

Contact the designers

Cargill Construction
Lakes Region and Mountain Region of Central NH
(603) 726-3939

Design Works
125 Wason Rd.
(603) 365-0162

Jordan Associates
1472 Old North Main St.
(603) 524-6900

Categories: Features