A deteriorating deck in the back of a West Linn home was not only a future hazard, but also a waste of potential for a family that likes to be outdoors. In its place today is a new cedar deck that’s used often for cooking and socializing.

Under a tiered roof is a kitchen designed for barbecuing, a bar built to linger, and a big TV screen to watch football games while being protected from the Pacific Northwest weather.

French doors from the dining room open wide to the deck that was engineered to seamlessly connect indoors to out. Skylights and clerestory windows draw in natural light but not wind or rain.

“The family doesn’t have to dodge raindrops to go out there,” says Tessa Isett, a design consultant with Neil Kelly Co. who worked with lead designer Matt Sipes on the project. “It’s actually their favorite place to be when it’s raining.”

Erase the idea that patio dining means plastic chairs and a wobbly table. Homeowners are investing big in expanding their living space under the stars.

The need to entertain in fresh air was emphasized during the coronavirus pandemic, but creating a usable, comfortable space in the open will continue to be popular, say remodeling and real estate experts.

Due to higher demand, more interior building materials are being made to be approved for outdoor use. Covered patios are outfitted with weatherproof chandeliers and metal pendant lights, Caesarstone’s Solaris exterior counters and other luxuries that were once reserved for inside the home.

Some owners finish their outdoor space to the same quality as seen indoors. Others make their patio casual and fun, with bold patterned rugs and pillows.

The West Linn outdoor kitchen caters to a dad who like to grill. The sink and under-counter refrigerator were positioned to make it easier for him to use his Coyote barbecue with a side burner as well as a Traeger smoker.

Food trays are spread out on the peninsula and a drink station can be set up at the bar.

For more convenience, stainless-steel cabinets store patio dishes and utensils, and there are pullout garbage and recycling bins.

“Oregonian are known for preferring the outdoors and instead of shutting the patio down for six months, the trend is to work with the environment to make it comfortable year-round,” says Isett.

Here, Twin Eagles electric radiant heaters were installed overhead. A heat lamp above the bar area is concealed behind a supporting beam.

“Turn it on, get under blankets and watch football,” Isett says.

The Heat & Glo gas fireplace didn’t need a vent, but a chimney was erected as a design element and a way to hide a structural beam.

The mantel is made of reclaimed wood from Salvage Works in Portland. Above it is a 55-inch TV, which has a rotating mount to angle or tilt the screen. Cables and electrical wire are hidden behind it.

The teenage sons can amplify music through the all-weather sound bar on the deck rather than inside the house, says Isett.

The cream, tan and taupe colors of the Southern Ledgestone on the chimney are attractive against the forested backyard and were inspired by the home’s color palette.

The Pacific Northwest style of the home is mirrored in the deck’s oversized beams and exposed raw-wood rafters. Alumarail cable guardrails outline the deck

Stairs from the deck to the yard have LED-lighted wood handrails.

When friends come to visit, they can arrive through the backyard along a garden path to the stairs and avoid entering the house.

“In essence we added a giant family room outside the house,” says Isett.

Outdoor entertainer’s dream kitchen

BEFORE: The deteriorating deck of the West Linn house was replaced with an outdoor living space designed by Matt Sipes with Tessa Isett of the Neil Kelly Co.Neil Kelly

Part of a series on outdoor entertainment spaces

Here are more tips from designers as well as resources to consider as you plan your outdoor spaces:

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072

[email protected] | @janeteastman