Out is the new in.  Plush sofas, area rugs, stone fireplaces–for the past several years, traditional furnishings and design elements that were once relegated exclusively to interiors have been trickling to exteriors, with homeowners creating exquisite residential spaces under the skies for relaxation and entertaining.

Outdoor Living is In

5137 Remington Drive | Brentwood, TN | Listed at $1,649,000

And it’s not only the living room that has gone rogue.  The solitary, standard patio barbeque grill has been replaced with sophisticated, gourmet kitchens complete with pizza ovens, flat screen TVs and built-in espresso machines.  After cooking alfresco, homeowners wine and dine with family and friends under the stars and glittery chandeliers, followed by open-air movies or sports on pop-up screens.

Outdoor Living is In - Outdoor Kitchen

823 Tyne Valley Court | Nashville, TN | Listed at $2,500,000

Nowadays “people don’t want to be confined to inside anymore,” says Suzanne Perkins of Sotheby’s International Realty in Montecito, CA.  They want the option to literally spread out—and to interact with nature with the same comfort and style that they enjoy indoors.

One of the best ways to achieve a seamless, organic flow with an open floor plan is by utilizing floor to ceiling sliding or swinging glass doors, suggests Perkins, “so the outside isn’t a secondary defined area, but more of a smooth transition from inside to outside.”

When considering the creation of outdoor living spaces such as a dining room, living room and kitchen, do work with a landscape architect and/or interior designer with experience in indoor/outdoor living.  And Brooklyn-based designer Lyani Powers says that a good approach is to plan the entire project at once, taking into account basic necessities such as plumbing, heat and electricity, audio and visual equipment and wireless/internet connectivity.  There may also be structural additions, such as pergolas, loggias or lanais, for shade and protection.

There are outdoor living solutions for all types of climates, even rain and cold.  “Open but covered is the way to go,” says Krista Hunter of Hunter Sotheby’s International Realty in Thailand.  “Otherwise you run the risk of not being able to use your outdoor space for much of the time.”

Outdoor Living is In - Screen Porch and Garden

5906 Hillsboro Pike| Nashville, TN | Listed at $2,749,000

Most outdoor areas typically feature recreational zones, which can include a hot tub and swimming pool.  But consider adding wow factors to enhance the outdoor experience:  a pool table, a life-size chess set, a putting green and a bocce ball court.   Take it a step further with a complete bar, which can connect visually to the nearby kitchen zone, where function is at a maximum with every state-of-the-art stainless steel appliance that’s incorporated in standard indoor kitchens, plus a variety of extras:  a hooded grill with a built-in fryer and smoker, a pizza oven, a rotisserie, a wine cooler, icemaker and wet bar, a cappuccino and espresso machine, and of course, ample storage space, work stations and countertops with stools for casual eating.

Adjacent to the kitchen would be a dining zone.   For a cozy effect, cover it with a pergola and then hang a decadent chandelier over the table to set the mood at twilight.   After a fine meal, meander over to the living room zone.   If cool weather is a factor, think about including a heating system – which may range from traditional patio heaters to a built-in fireplace or radiant heat.  This space in particular should offer ample ambient lighting, entertainment in the form of audio and/or visual equipment designed specifically for the outdoors and comfortable seating (upholstered in outdoor fabrics, of course), area rugs and accessories, but do keep in mind one rule of thumb, stipulates HGTV and STYLE Network expert Kelly Edwards:  all of the exterior spaces must coordinate aesthetically with your interior décor, so that your home – inside and out– is cohesive and visually appealing.

Other than that, when going out, the sky’s the limit.

Article provided by Claudia Gryvatz Copquin exclusively for Sotheby’s International Realty® RESIDE magazine.

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