The Chicago area is known for its very distinctive seasons – cool, wet springs; hot, humid summers; pleasantly, mild falls; and cold, seemingly endless winters. These Midwestern winters are not for the faint-hearted – cold, grey, blustery days that keep most people holed up inside their homes unless they need to venture out. This stretch of bleak months causes a longing for summer where the days are hot and sunny; a desire to get outside and revel in the sunshine.
In an attempt to take advantage of the gorgeous summer and fall weather, more and more people are extending their living space outdoors into their backyards. Limited only by the size of your yard, and the budget available, you can tailor backyard living to suit your personal style – you could have a gourmet built-in kitchen, a championship sports court, a calming patio, or a play area to make the neighborhood kids jealous!
If you love to cook and spend your nights and weekends hosting friends and family, then a built-in kitchen may be right for you. Having an outdoor kitchen keeps you interacting with your family and friends during parties or backyard barbecues. Instead of being stuck in the house preparing food while everyone else socializes outside, a built-in outdoor kitchen puts you right in the middle of all the fun.
Outdoor kitchens offer a variety of different options to suit your culinary and entertaining needs. You can stay simple and include a built-in grill, a prep counter, some storage and a sink. If you want to go all out you can add extra features like a wine chiller, an ice maker, a kegerator, or even a pizza oven. Might as well go big, or go home, right? When planning your space take into consideration you may need to extend utilities (gas, water, electric) and install outdoor lighting, which will add to the initial construction costs. When the project comes to completion though, it will be worth every penny to have such a great space to host get-togethers.
For the active family or sports enthusiast, building a sports court is the perfect way to utilize their outdoor space! A sports court is a great way to spend time together as a family and even entice older kids to spend more time at home. Having a backyard that encourages your family to get up and get moving is an awesome way to build family memories while keeping everyone active and healthy.
Sports courts can be designed to accommodate a wide range of athletic interests. If your backyard has space, you can build a full court basketball court that be transformed to play volleyball, badminton or even short-court tennis. A smaller space can accommodate half court basketball, pickleball, or other similar activities. To begin planning your court think about what sports your family enjoys, and also what type of base you’d like to play upon. Concrete and asphalt bases are expensive but durable; specialized sports surfaces or compacted bases are cheaper and more forgiving but won’t hold up to the elements as long. You also need to factor in the cost of the components you want to add such as hoops, nets, lighting, fencing, seating, etc. A well-designed sports court can bring many years of enjoyment to an active family.
Perhaps you are more of the stay at home and relax, maybe have a couple of close friends over for drinks type of person? In that case, then designing a cozy patio space would fit your needs and provide a leisurely, relaxing oasis in your backyard. Building a custom patio will give you space right out your back door when you need a quiet moment to unwind.
When planning the patio of your dreams, it’s important to take a few things into consideration. First and foremost think about the features you want. Maybe you like the idea of a small patio with only a bistro table and a couple of chairs? Or do you want a larger space with cushy, relaxing patio furniture? How about a fire pit for cooler nights or a water feature to drown out traffic noise? Think about greenery too. Adding a trellis for climbing plants can add much-needed shade during certain times of the day, or much needed privacy to keep nosy neighbors from peeking in and intruding on your down time.
We certainly can’t forget about the Chicago-land families with younger kids! For all of you, a well-designed play area that sparks the imagination of your kids and burns off their extra energy is perfect. Adding a play area to your backyard will keep them entertained in the safety of your own yard while making your house the hotspot for neighboring kids.
Play areas have limitless potential and can be created to fit any budget and space. You can go with a standard play area that has swings, a slide, a sandbox and maybe even a fort. Or you can go over the top and add rock walls to climb, monkey bars to swing from, or a miniature pirate ship to play on. When planning a play area for your children it’s important to take into account their ages and physical abilities so it matches their stage in life while challenging them at the same time. You want them to enjoy it now, but be able to grow into it too, so the space isn’t obsolete by the time next summer rolls around.
No matter your hobbies, interests, or family activities, there is an outdoor living option to fit your lifestyle. Outdoor living allows you to extend your living space from the inside of your home outward, creating a spot you want to enjoy as often as the weather allows. Since it’s completely customizable to your interests, available space, and budget you can create something perfect for your family to enjoy. Winter can be long in the Midwest, so it’s important to take full advantage of those gorgeous spring, summer and fall days!