Your Year-Round Sanctuary

Summertime is here! Why not create or enhance the outdoor living space at your home for relaxed and easy entertaining and connecting with family and friends? The days of having a few chairs and a table are in the past when you now have the opprotunity to combine a beautiful garden sanctuary with many very modern comforts and take advantage of newer technology. Here are some great trends to consider when you redesign your outdoor living space.

The installation of an attractive full-functioning outdoor kitchen is easier than ever before with attractive counter space, islands, grills, range hoods, sinks, refrigerators, dishwashers, pizza ovens and other appliances. This adds so much convenience to make the space useable all year round. You can enjoy visiting with your guests while you are preparing meals and drinks at the same time.

One popular trend is the blurring of the line between the indoor and outdoor which is more than just windows and patio doors. It can now include fully folding walls and screens so a family room or kitchen can open and create a seamless transition into your outdoor living space. These folding walls and screens can stack compactly to the side of the opening and help maximize the natural light coming into your home, whether they're open or closed. There are now motorized retractable screens for your outdoor patio that provide fresh air, protection from insects and privacy when sitting on your patio or hot tub.

Look around your available space and when you create your sitting area, be sure to include beautiful hand-carved wooden gates, iron work, fences and flowering vines to view for a more relaxing sanctuary experience. There are also exquisite antique and modern fountains and custom carved tables and storage areas that can enhance the space providing function and beauty.

Low-maintenance gardens, drought-tolerant plants and less turfgrass have become more popular too especially on the Central Coast. Many homeowners now have "blended gardens" that incorporate edible plants and ornamentals, giving home chefs a great harvest of fruit vegetables and herbs.

Homeowners now have a wide variety of choices for pavers with beautiful textures and colors. You can choose monochromatic color schemes with pops of bright colors to tie in with your outdoor furniture. Some homeowners are now selecting a muted gray or tan color blend in their hardscapes as they work well with both warm and cool design palettes. There is also a growing trend toward larger and more linear pavers, and some homeowners are utilizing beautiful plank-style pavers, and very large format slab pavers.

Another trend is to "entangle" your hardscape installations with the surrounding garden landscape. Pavers can be "entangled" with adjacent gardens or grass in a "fade away" effect or you can create a stepping stone or checkerboard pattern as well.

Many homeowners enjoy retaining free-standing walls with natural stone textures that have the look of chiseled or tumbled stone. These can be used surrounding a beautiful outdoor fireplace or fire pit. Homeowners are using high quality and natural materials such as cedar posts and beautiful stonework.

The trend of using water features in your outdoor living space continues to grow, with its soothing sound and attraction of wildlife. Choose a gorgeous high-end water wall or trickling fountain.

For those very warm days and nights, energy-efficient ceiling fans are an excellent way to create a breeze on your outdoor room area and even help ensure that steam from the grill doesn't stay in sitting area.

A well-designed built-in lightning system is important for your outdoor space since you will often enjoy it after dark. With today's LED technology and smart phone apps, it's even easer to install an automated lighting system. There are also beautiful and durable string light LED choices plus you can have all types of lighting fixtures such as sconces and chandeliers.

Another trend is including a fire table will make your patio much more comfortable, providing a great source of heat. Fire tables can also blend in with the rest of the patio furniture while creating a cozier feel for you and your guests.

There are new outdoor fabrics, which are made from acrylic fibers that are more fade-resistant and waterproof so it's easier to add comfortable furniture to your outdoor living space.

Many of us enjoy the opportunity to watch TV outside so be sure to choose a high-quality outdoor television that is sealed from moisture and resists the glare of the sun.

So, the sky truly is the limit as you consider what you'd especially enjoy outdoors at your own home. Consult with experts who can make your dreams a reality for outdoor living. And remember, as you enhance your outdoor living, you'll also be adding value to your home.

Submitted by Susana DeFatima Silva, MA, Co-Founder/Proprietor/Managing Partner, Test of Tyme, LLC #1022805 and Wendy Brickman, MA/MBA, Brickman Marketing.