Turning Inside Out
When you live in New England, every summer day is a precious, fleeting thing. In a part of the country that spends three quarters of its time besieged by snow, ice, cold spring rain, nor’easters, mud and any combination of the above, it’s important to recognize summer and early fall weather for what it is — a brief respite to be savored.
Getting out there and enjoying the summer is easier said than done. Unfortunately, for most of us, summer no longer means an uninterrupted vacation. Jobs go on, obligations, schedules and errands still exist. So what do you do if you can’t hit the beach every day or head out for a lake cruise? Simple. Turn your yard into your new living room, dining room, the kids’ playroom or even kitchen. If your favorite room is outside, taking every advantage of New Hampshire’s short-lived warm weather is as easy as stepping out your back door.
Paul Lynch and Outdoor Pride Landscaping in Manchester specializes in getting their clients out into the warm weather by designing living spaces in their back or even front yards.
No space is too small or ordinary, says Lynch. In fact, his signature design is what he calls the reception room.
The Reception Room
With houses and yards getting larger and larger every day, Lynch likes to play with the standard walkway. Instead of a straight line, says Lynch, he uses sweeping curves, or breaks up the walkway with lines of different stone. To further decrease the monotony of a long, uninterrupted walkway, Lynch adds a little space big enough for a couple chairs or a bench where the homeowners can pause with guests on their way out or in. Instead of greeting company or saying goodbye in a mudroom, homeowners can enjoy the end of an evening outside.
Turning an old patio into both a dining room and kitchen was as easy as using two different colors of stone, says Lynch. The homeowner had a small red-brick patio that Lynch increased into a complete outdoor room. Instead of matching the brick, Lynch chose a different stone for the expansion. Now the space is defined in a simple way; the red is now the chef’s domain where the grill sits and the cooking is done, while the rest is a place to relax and eat. To further create the feeling of an enclosed room in the open outdoors, a wall and plantings helps to create the space.
Bringing the playroom outside by building a miniature playground is a great way to get the kids away from computers and TVs. For Lynch, the fencing that surrounds an area doesn’t have to mean unattractive. In fact, he adds, fencing can be another design element to help give a room definition. Even when code requires fencing around something like a pool, says Lynch, varying the heights, setting it back farther from the pool side and using different styles in a creative but simple way can make it something that adds to the space.
While varying stone patterns, fencing, knee walls and plants are all great ways to create outdoor living space, if you’re looking for more serious bug and weather protection, a gazebo is a beautiful way to both add to the landscape and give you a true outdoor room.
In front of the gazebo, Lynch designed a patio with rough edges that echo the geometric shape of the gazebo. A fireplace completes the space, creating a fireside living room perfect for New England evenings.
Room with a view
A great way to bring atmosphere to outdoor living, says Lynch, is to install a water feature near your new room. The sounds and looks of running water can add a feel of the real outdoors to your backyard.
To Find out More: “The New Outdoor Kitchen”
If you’re looking to go for bigtime with one outdoor room, award-winning food writer and kitchen designer Debora Krasner suggests building a kitchen. In her recent book, “The New Outdoor Kitchen,” Krasner presents both stunning photos of outdoor kitchens from around the country and tons of tips and instructions for how to build your own. From advice on kitchen equipment to fire pit construction, Krasner has written a beautiful how-to on outdoor kitchens.
Though the book features kitchens in warmer climates such as the Southwest, Krasner also includes a section on her own outdoor kitchen in Vermont. New England weather did not keep Krasner from building a gorgeous full kitchen beside her home. When the nights start turning a little chilly, explains Krasner, she fires up powerful patio heaters to extend the season in her new kitchen.