Outdoor living spaces have been trending for years, amplified in part by the pandemic. And even though the Pacific Northwest is known for its wetter weather and darker winters, we love the outdoors and aren’t willing to sacrifice time in the fresh air. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to create beautiful outdoor living spaces for entertaining or relaxing while still accommodating our area’s unique climate.
Consider these ideas for your Pacific Northwest outdoor living space:
1. Maximize Covered Areas
The biggest detriment to enjoying time outdoors is rain, so make sure at least part of your outdoor living space is covered in some way to ensure you don’t miss out on using the space for nine months out of the year.
Incorporate small decks and balconies into the home’s footprint and roofline; it’s well worth the investment and also creates a more streamlined look. If your deck is large, consider having both enclosed and open areas, perhaps by combining a screened-in porch with an exposed deck, or by incorporating overhangs into the outdoor kitchen and other areas. Multilevel decks, often a necessity for our area’s notoriously sloped properties, offer the opportunity to naturally create protected areas.
This Estes Builders home in Sequim features a fully covered wrap-around porch with recessed lighting and a skylight, as well as a catio. Clear panels help maintain a seamless view. SEE MORE
The three exterior areas of this Estes home on Discovery Bay include both covered and uncovered elements. Wood columns offer the perfect aesthetic for the surrounding woods while clear panels preserve the view to the water from the interior of the home. SEE MORE
2. Make It Liveable
One of the biggest trends in outdoor living right now is that the exterior space feels much like the interior space. Outdoor furniture has evolved to be more sophisticated and more reflective of what you might have inside, even while withstanding wet weather. Consider creating “rooms” throughout your outdoor space to designate areas for sitting, gathering around the fire pit, eating, or relaxing with a book. Use elements like a planters, different colors of decking, and outdoor rugs to visually separate the spaces.
3. Add Heating
One benefit the pandemic brought was a surge in demand for outdoor heaters, at first for restaurants accommodating safer outdoor dining. Those products are now more available for home settings, including electric infrared options that eliminate the need for propane and mount easily overhead.
4. Incorporate Natural Light
Skylights don’t need to be limited to the interior of the home. Estes Builders often incorporates skylights into outdoor living spaces to bring in light to covered areas, making the deck or porch more comfortable and more functional.
Four skylights ensure the deep deck, designed by Estes Builders in Port Angeles, takes in ample light. SEE MORE
5. Incorporate Artificial Lighting
It may feel like an unnecessary expense, but including a variety of lighting throughout your outdoor space is important for setting a mood, increasing useability, and maintaining safety, particularly when the sun goes down at 4:30 in December. Combining different types of lights—such as recessed fixtures, deck railing lights, step lights, and landscape lights—with a programmable control system provides plenty of freedom to light your space appropriately when in use and when not in use. And it’s much easier to do while you’re building your home than afterward.
6. Consider Robust Materials
The Pacific Northwest climate can be hard on wood. Consider manmade decking materials or more robust exotic woods to help cut down on maintenance needs. Also look for low-maintenance railings suitable for rainy or coastal regions. Glass panels are an ideal infill option for maintaining views, but may require regular cleaning to remove water spots, so cable rail infill might be worth considering if your lifestyle allows.
7. Outfit Your Kitchen
Options for outdoor appliances abound, with grills, refrigerators, ice makers, and more available in models designed for exterior conditions. The outdoor kitchen also offers an opportunity to incorporate a specialty cooking hobby, such as a smoker or a pizza oven.
The deck on this Estes home in Seabeck includes a grill, griddle, and stainless steel storage bin. Stone-look tile provides a stylish backsplash to visually designate the cooking space. SEE MORE
8. Maximize Views
With so many homes in the Pacific Northwest offering sweeping views of the mountains or water, it’s crucial to plan ahead. Estes Builders can help design your home’s layout and footprint to ensure the decks, balconies, and patios are in prime position to soak it all in. In fact, it’s often worth consulting with your builder before buying property to make sure there are no limitations that could impact the size, shape, and positioning of your outdoor space (learn more here).
Want more design inspiration? Check out our project gallery.