Provide Easy Access
Getting people outside may be as easy as ensuring a wide and welcoming entrance door to your outdoor room. Install solid flooring materials that are good in all weather. You should place outdoor rooms as close as possible to a main exterior door of a related room (such as a dining room or kitchen that leads to an outdoor dining room or kitchen).
If you can't construct the outdoor room right on the house's wall, make sure you have a wide and well-lit pathway that's free of obstacles or unnecessary turns and stairs. Keeping the outdoor entertainment space visually and intuitively attached to the home (as viewed from inside) will help encourage the use of your outdoor space.
Fire is a naturally inviting design element just about any time of the year, but fire is a must-have when you want to get people outside in the fall and winter. Modern fire elements come in all shapes and sizes to accommodate any style or use of outdoor rooms.
Have a large lounge space? Why not add a full fireplace or even a double fireplace that can warm groups of people on both sides?
Decorating a smaller space? Portable fire pits or chimneys are mobile and easy to place where people are hanging out. You can even get modern and fancy with a fire table or go more traditional with a built-in stone fire pit.
A four-season porch or patio is the ultimate goal of outdoor entertaining, and this aim may be accomplished when you add removable walls or windows that can be put up in winter and taken down in better weather. Look for a design that features large walls with windows and glass doors—and possibly even windows and doors that can be completely removed in mild weather.
At the very least, install a solid roof that provides protection for the entire outdoor room and matches the shingles and siding material of the house around it. Privacy walls or greenery barriers can help shield exposed sides from the wind, the beating heat, or rain and snow.
Make It Multi-Purpose
The more ways in which an outdoor room can be utilized, the more likely it is to be enjoyed. Look for ways to add functionality to furniture and decorations, such as by installing a wood fireplace that doubles as a pizza oven. How about a dining table that converts into a ping pong or pool table?
A privacy wall can both protect your patio from cold winds and provide a great backdrop for a projected movie on warm evenings. How creative you can be is largely dependent on your imagination. Work with your outdoor contractor to find ways to maximize the usage possibilities of each space.
Light It Up
Add nighttime and winter hours to your outdoor calendar by ensuring good lighting for all seasons. Good outdoor lighting should consist of different options, such as an overhead pendant lamp by the dining table and string lights hung on surrounding railings and columns. Use low-voltage solar lights to make walkways and stairs easier to navigate. And be sure to provide plenty of task lighting in outdoor kitchens, bars, and dining rooms.
No matter which method works best for you and your property, clever design can make a big difference in how much you and your guests enjoy the great outdoors in your yard. And then you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors.