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.
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:
- Pick an underused, flat area in the yard. Select the look you want. >Cost Plus World Market has a directory of fun styles called coast casual, riviera beach, Marrakech modern, Napa Valley chic, Pacific Coast picnic, Ojai ranch, Montauk summer, Savannah siesta, Sedona sunset and natural elegance
- Built-in cabinetry, benches and counters need to have a timeless look to last 20 to 25 years. >Select standard-size outdoor kitchen appliances that can be replaced without altering cabinets
- Make a color and patten statement with a rug and other elements that are not permanent or pricey >eSaleRugs has discounted outdoor rugs up to 50%
- To furnish the outdoor living space, start with items you already have on the patio or even furnishings inside your home that you can roll out. Add outdoor cushions for extra warmth on cold evenings. >Lowe’s has replacement patio cushions and pillows. See how to measure for patio cushions
- For seating, some people buy inexpensive chairs and expect to replace them every couple of years. Portland designer Michelle Rolens of Neil Kelly recommends investing in long-lasting products such as cushions filled with marine-grade foam and covered in Sunbrella fabric that last decades. >Joss & Main is offering up to 70% off weatherproof, outdoor furniture plus free shipping on orders of $35 or more
- Awnings or shades can serve as weather-protection in a covered space. A trellis can provide overhead protection. >Find the umbrella size that fits with this Home Depot chart. Protect furniture with rain covers
- Keep the outdoor space warm year-round with a precast fireplace or heater. >BBQGuys has a winter sale on electric fireplaces, fire pits, grills, outdoor kitchen appliances and lighting. Patio heaters are on sale at Amazon, Frontgate, Home Depot and Wayfair
- Blankets, throws and water-resistant picnic blankets are sold at Amazon, L.L. Bean and Walmart
- Connect speakers to the patio to listen to music or enhance the sound of an outdoor TV >Best Buy has outdoor TVs sold with a price match guarantee and free delivery. BBQGuys has SunBriteTVs were engineered to withstand the harsh effects of rain, dirt, insects, extreme temperatures and UV rays
- Find indoor-outdoor ceiling fans at Home Depot
- Home Depot has outdoor lighting on sale up to 25% off and hundreds of different water fountains. >Lumens specializes in lighting with many outdoor options. Also check out 1-800Lighting.com, which offers 20% off your first order
- Kohl’s has Adirondack chairs in child and adult sizes and a variety of colors, plus outdoor decor in styles such as farmhouse, coastal, tropical and natural
- 2 Modern has modern outdoor furniture, lighting and decor, including contemporary chairs, tables, lamps and accessories on sale
- Serena & Lily has upscale tables and chairs for brunch in the garden or a living room on the terrace. Shipping is free
- Terrain has backyard games like a bocce set. Dick’s Sporting Goods offers free shipping on orders of $49 or more
- Woodland Direct is having a sale that includes fire pits. Solo Stove has a 25% off sale on fire pits. Frontgate, Walmart and Wayfair also sell fire pits and fire tables
- Other sources to visit for outdoor furniture and furnishings: Bed Bath & Beyond, IKEA and Macy’s, which is having a furniture closeout
— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072