Updated January 2022: At this time of year, it’s not unusual to be feeling a bit of cabin fever and perhaps dreaming of warmer days ahead when you can enjoy being outdoors. But it’s especially true now, after we’ve all spent so much time over the past 2 years isolating at home and trying to find ways to enjoy it more. No matter how much you love the interior of your home, why not hit “restart” and plan some updates to your outdoor living space? Family members can get away from it all simply by stepping out the back door!

Screened porch and deck

Screened porch and deck by Merrill Contracting & Remodeling

Your backyard refresh can be as simple as a small deck or patio or a multi-level addition perfect for relaxing, reading, or dining with a large deck, screened porch, outdoor kitchen, spa, fire pit, and more.

Add Space for Less

Assuming your exterior upgrades are consistent with the level of design and features of your home, an outdoor living area can be less expensive per square foot than indoor space. It also is a great way that’s often overlooked when you need to give everyone in the family more elbow room and make staying home a lot more enjoyable for all.

Screened porch by Merrill Contracting & Remodeling

Screened porch by Merrill Contracting & Remodeling

Options and Ideas for Outdoor Living Spaces

There are an amazing number of options available for creating just the right outdoor living space for your home and lifestyle, but here are some of the highlights:


They can be simple or spectacular. One level or multi-level. Rectangular or a custom shape to suit your specific needs. You can add a roof or awning, screening or sliding glass panels, and feature one of several composite or engineered building materials that offer longer life and require little to no maintenance.

Screened porch and deck

Screened porch and deck by Merrill Contracting & Remodeling


Because they are at ground level, patios are perfect for integrating your home with your landscaping which can offer shade, privacy, fragrance and a beautiful view to your time outdoors.

Screened porch and patio

Screened porch and patio by Merrill Contracting & Remodeling

There are a tremendous number of building material choices ─ engineered or natural ─ for patios. You may like the variety, color predictability and cost that fabricated products like brick, pavers, and poured surfaces offer, or you may prefer the warmth and blending of colors and textures of natural stone.


You can really expand the hours of enjoyment your outdoor living space affords with your choice of lighting. It can do so much more than keep you from tripping over the cat in the dark.

Outdoor living space patio with fire pit

Photo courtesy of Kichler Lighting

Exterior illumination can be done in a creative way, as soft or bright as you want, setting a mood and adding drama to your home. It pays to consider the lighting design as carefully as you consider the design and materials of your deck or patio.


Outdoor kitchen

Photo courtesy of Kichler Lighting

If you are not doing at least some cooking outside, you are really missing out! Your options range from the purist’s favorite charcoal grill to a chef’s dream outdoor kitchen with a gourmet gas grill, sink, refrigerator, icemaker, counter space for food prep and serving, storage cabinets, a fireplace or fire pit, and more.


Whether you love to bask in the sun or would prefer to sit in the shade, you have options…lots of them! At one end of the spectrum, you might opt for the simplicity of a freestanding umbrella to provide spot shade, or you may like the flexibility of a retractable awning or sunshade. For a more permanent solution, you may wish to have part of the space under a roof, pergola or gazebo (or even screened in).

Deck, patio and pergola

Photo courtesy of Trex Decking


When designing an outdoor living space, you should consider building in some universal design features for maximum accessibility for all. Always provide secure handrails for stairs and consider low-rise steps. Low-threshold doorways and lever handles instead of doorknobs are excellent options.

You will get years and years of enjoyment from your investment in your outdoor living space if you take the time to plan it out, design it right and build it for less maintenance and long life.

Call us if you have any questions or if you are ready to explore the great outdoor living options that suit your lifestyle.

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