Three options for converting your backyard into functional living space

Outdoor living spaces have gained in popularity over the past few years, cover three options for converting your backyard into functional living space:

Outdoor pool living space

Option 1: Covered Seating Areas

Many Santa Clarita homes already have a concrete slab poured that can be used as the patio. If your home doesn't this is an easy fix. The space itself does not have to be large, either. With a little imagination and a great design, square footage doesn't matter. For instance, narrow patios that span the length of the house can be covered for outdoor entertaining. By creating two separate areas - dining on one end, eating on the other - you can visually elongate the space to make it feel larger.

Option 2: Decks

During the recession, construction of decks dropped as people spent money on renovations that would result in a higher return on investment (ROI). Now that the economy is on an upswing, the ROI for a deck is on the rise. Remodeling Magazine's "Cost vs. Value Report" shows a wooden deck addition resulted in an 87.4% ROI in 2014.

Decks come in all shapes and sizes. They may be attached to your existing home or built across the lawn. Stone, wood and vinyl options are available, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The cost of a new deck addition depends on its size and material used.

Option 3: Outdoor Cooking

The 2014 National Kitchen & Bath Association Design Trends Survey found 43% of respondents surveyed from 2013 had built an outdoor kitchen area in that year. Prior to construction, homeowners should consider the following:

Location. Near the home? Further in the yard?
Grill type. Built in? Portable, Gas or Propane?
Sink. Cold water only? Hot and cold?
Seating for eating. Location? Number of seats? Table top or bar-style?
Beverages. Kegerator? Wine fridge? Small fridge for cold sodas?

Even smaller backyard spaces can provide the perfect space for an outdoor kitchen. An L-shaped bar, for instance, can incorporate a grill; refrigerator and seating without consuming much square footage.

From covered patios to porches to outdoor kitchens, the outdoor living space project you choose will depend on your design hopes, timeline and budget. If you're unsure in which direction you want to head, create a list of the items you must have and those you would like to have, and then list your desired timeline and budget. These three factors - design, timeline, and budget - will lead you to an outdoor living space you can enjoy for years to come.

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