The 400-square-foot addition that Bill and Denise Ross put on their Blacklick home this year features the kinds of amenities you would expect to find in a home on a golf course. The room boasts 12-foot coffered ceilings, well-trimmed columns, fine porcelain tile, hidden ceiling lights, a chandelier, a trio of pendant lights and a sound system.
The 400-square-foot addition that Bill and Denise Ross put on their Blacklick home this year features the kinds of amenities you would expect to find in a home on a golf course.
The room boasts 12-foot coffered ceilings, well-trimmed columns, fine porcelain tile, hidden ceiling lights, a chandelier, a trio of pendant lights and a sound system.
One standard feature, though, is missing: Instead of windows, the room has screens.
The Rosses’ new space underscores the increasingly blurry distinction between indoors and outdoors.
With fireplaces, televisions, kitchen appliances, living-room furniture, rugs and lighting, some outdoor spaces resemble indoor rooms with a breeze.
Even in the four-season climate of central Ohio, people are enjoying the outdoors more but increasingly don’t want to lose the comforts of the indoors.
“There’s no question about it, people want to mirror the inside of the house outside,” said Pat Lynch, a design consultant with Peabody Landscape Group in Columbus.
“They want to create that true outdoor family room. A patio or deck alone — those are things of the past. The term now is certainly outdoor living. That’s what we try to create for people. We design the outside space like the interior.”
According to a survey by the American Association of Landscape Architects, 92 percent of landscape architects expect outdoor living spaces to be popular among homeowners this year.
Architects identified the most popular outdoor features as lighting, seating/dining areas, fire pits/fireplaces and grills.
But even features traditionally associated with the indoors scored high.
Music systems were cited by 61 percent of landscape architects, wireless connection by 56 percent, and televisions and heating systems by 49 percent. Even cooling systems (including fans) made the list, cited by 37 percent of the designers as a feature desired by homeowners.
Such spaces can be found on patios, screened-in porches, gazebos and even front porches, as George Cleary knows from personal experience.
Several years ago, the owner of the Cleary Co. remodeling firm extended his front porch to make an outdoor living room roughly 14 feet deep and 26 feet long.
He added a television, comfortable furniture, a sound system and two fans. Now, he views the porch as just another room in the house.
With a portable patio heater, the family uses the porch year-round. In fact, it has become the home’s most popular spot for a Christmas party that he and his wife, Cathy, throw.
“It’s as close to being used daily as one could imagine,” he said.
“I will read the paper out there in the morning, and I love it when the Buckeyes are playing. I can watch the games outside.”
Cleary’s company just added a “lounge” onto an Upper Arlington home that opens fully to the adjacent living room through a folding wall of glass, allowing a space that truly blends the indoors and out. The effect of one seamless room is magnified by the use of Italian tile in the floor of both the indoor and outdoor spaces.
The lounge features built-in furniture, a fireplace topped with a flat-screen television, and drapes that can be pulled for privacy.
In addition to being covered, such spaces should ideally include certain elements to be successful, contractors say.
For the Rosses’ Blacklick home, contractor Peter Robinson made sure the addition continued the architectural details of the main home — the same roof pitch and shingles, the same gutter and trim, and the same colors.
“We want to use the architectural elements of the house to make the addition look like it’s been here all along,” he said.
The project has been finished only a few weeks, but Bill Ross said he and his wife already know they will spend a lot of time in the space.
“We knew that, if we were going to do the project, we wanted to make it seem like it’s a living space, not just a place to sit awhile,” he said.
“We incorporated lighting, the chandelier over the dinner table, speakers so we can run the stereo sound through the room, and the tile floor makes it feel like an indoor room instead of an outdoor one,” Ross said.
“Eventually, we’ll get a TV out there. We plan on doing all the Buckeye games there.”
The couple has outfitted the room with furniture as comfortable as indoor pieces — which can be key to making such a project a success, Cleary said.
“We want to keep enough in the budget for clients to furnish the room,” Cleary said. “If they put a couple of soccer-style chairs in there, it really loses the effect.”
Such spaces typically have a focal point, such as a fireplace or, increasingly, a television or kitchen counter, Lynch said.
“People want to gather around the grill, just like they do in the kitchen,” Lynch said. “They want to sit at a bar or get something out of the fridge. The sky’s the limit.”