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  • Writer's pictureMia Hable

Patios and Porches and Decks, Oh My!

Outdoor living is in high demand even in areas where it is only possible for a few months a year. In fact those areas cling to any sign of good weather and people find every excuse to take to the outdoors for a moment of sunshine. As a Chicagoan I practically live all summer out on my deck and use my grill every day. Now that some schools have started this week, it is inevitable that fall will descend upon us sooner than we like and with that the cool weather stretches into the seven or so months of cold known affectionately as Chiberia. So, I cling to the few weeks we have left of summer hours and sunshine and bask in my outdoor space refusing to pack it in until the last second.

Indoor/ Outdoor living has become extremely popular because it provides homeowners an extension of their living space outside allowing for bigger and better festivities. I love having friends over for dinner or a party. Being able to host al fresco not only cuts down on the mess in my kitchen but also allows for more people to join in the fun.

If you are trying to sell your home don’t neglect the outdoor space! The very reasons you love entertaining in your home are the reasons someone else might like your home too! Don’t pack up all your outdoor furniture in hopes of getting started on the move. Instead leave the furniture, it will help buyers envision themselves dining in the open air, hosting a BBQ or cuddling together under the stars. As a side benefit it will give you a calming escape from all the packing on the inside.

The key to fun outdoor space is to use it as an extension of the dining and living rooms.

Create a living room lounge area with outdoor furniture by using couches, chairs, side tables, coffee tables, area rugs and planters to foster relaxation and conversation. Make sure that you choose the correct materials. Indoor/outdoor living doesn’t mean you can move your living room furniture outside. Instead, find furniture that is made to withstand inclement weather. Teak, composite wood, wicker and wrought iron are all great choices that won’t rust or rot. Pillows and cushions should be made of both sun and water resistant material like sunbrella. And never use a rug that isn’t specified for outdoor use. Any natural materials such as wool will be ruined at the first drop of rain! In a perfect world you will always cover your outdoor furniture when it is not in use to protect sun or water damage, but lets face reality, that doesn't always happen. I am as guilty of it as the next person. I leave my furniture uncovered provided that the weather doesn’t call for a down pour, because I like to get home from work and head out to the deck for a beer before getting started on dinner. Nothing is more uninviting than having to uncover everything just so I can sit and unwind for a few minutes. So do yourself and your furniture a favor and pick your materials wisely.

Creating a dining space is another great way to set up your patio, porch or deck. It makes hosting a dinner party easy. You can plate up the burgers from the grill and set them down to eat immediately. If you are in a particularly sunny area you might consider creating a pergola or having an umbrella to provide a bit of shade and protect those friends with fair skin from frying (as one of those people, I thank you)!

If you are on the ground level and have the space, consider investing in a fire pit for ambiance. It will make you feel like a kid again sitting in front of the campfire and as an added bonus you can extend the life of your outdoor space into the autumn and spring months. In Chicago we need all the help we can get, snow often begins in October and it doesn’t get warm until May. All that time bundled up indoors can make a person crazy, so any way to extend time outside is what I personally look for in a home.

For smaller spaces like balconies consider a more streamlined approach, use bistro tables and a couple chairs for a great place to sit with your morning coffee or a glass of wine late at night. Don’t over crowd these areas, let them be simple and meaningful. Any outdoor space is a positive in my book. If your space is small that just means you can be creative and cosy!

The most important aspect of outdoor living is to keep your space tidy, blow off grass clippings and leaves from your patio and keep up with dead heading and weeding, whether you have potted plants or large gardens. A tidy and comfortable area is great for enticing buyers and for relaxing after a long day. The outdoor space is not just for enticing potential buyers, but for you as well. Moving is stressful and sometimes you need a moment to step away from it all and relax. While winter may be coming, its not here yet! Use that outdoor space to maximize your potential profit and minimize your stress.

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