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Create cool venues in your outdoor space

Indoor-outdoor home plan options improve every aspect of livability in a new home. Whether for entertaining, quiet reading and relaxation, tea with a friend, exercise, group homework sessions or videoconferences with an attractive, natural backdrop, the outdoors can offer something for everyone.

Within many, if not all new homes, builders incorporate elements of indoor-outdoor living. They know that this area of the property needs to be easy for everyone of all generations to enjoy.

Several builders include the finished outdoor living spaces in their standard home plans.

And the best part is that it’s easy to add flexibility to outdoor spaces so that every generation in the household can enjoy them on a regular basis.

While many builders already either include or offer options for a California Room and covered patios, meet with your builder before construction to find new access points to the outdoors. Some will work with you on customizations that can make a huge difference.

Seek extra doors and decks

Does the new-home plan include a spacious home office on the main level or perhaps a main-level primary suite, a junior master or multigenerational suite?

If the home plans don’t already include a doorway to the outside from that main-level room, ask about the feasibility of a single door, a set of French doors or a sliding glass pocket door or stacking door.

Doing this not only adds a new way to get outside but brings more natural light into this room when needed. Outside, have some concrete poured and consider a private seating area and consider the sun exposure to decide on a pergola, umbrella or sail-fabric cover.

If the space is also used as a bedroom, install a blackout curtain or shade over the glass for sleeping hours.

Find clever furnishings

Chairs don’t need to be just for sitting. Tables don’t need to be simple surfaces. Even concrete patio surfaces can accommodate multiple uses.

Consider chairs and benches with storage space under the seats for hiding the furniture covers, blankets or even packing up toys that aren’t in use.

Look for three-piece chair and table sets with a multiple-use table that converts from coffee table to beverage cooler to cocktail table simply by lifting the top and filling the bottom with ice and beverages.

Some of these convertible pieces have a sturdy, telescoping center pole on which the lid lifts along and locks into place to create a table surface 1 or 2 feet above the cooler.

A hammock or two — hung either from a frame or from hooks mounted to sturdy structures such as stone or concrete walls or the posts of an arbor or pergola — create the feel of a backyard oasis.

Think about entertainment

Whether prewired for an outdoor TV and surround-sound setup or not, the backyard can be a great place for a kids’ movie night, watching sporting events or enjoying everything from music playlists and satellite concerts to home movies.

Outdoor speaker systems can connect via smartphone apps to the indoor sound system.

Alternatively, an outdoor video projection set with a 100-inch retractable screen and a portable and rechargeable electric projector can do the trick without extra wiring. Look for projection sets with wireless functions and several kinds of input and output jacks for compatibility with various devices.

Add a series of small wireless speakers with big sound. Or consider a 100W wireless, rechargeable speaker with a microphone for karaoke for awards presentations, “Happy Birthday” singing and more.

With the right electronics, a variety of lounging areas and flexible furniture, the new yard can host everything from Little League pizza parties and awards presentations to birthday parties or cocktail parties with the new neighbors.

Control the air and the light

In new-home plans that include a California Room, a ceiling fan and additional recessed lighting are good choices. Incorporating these elements makes the California Room truly year-round.

For other outdoor spaces, shop for high-velocity, rechargeable tabletop fans to keep the air moving. And consider anchoring decorative, solar LED electric garden torches around the perimeter of each relaxation space for ambience.

Solar-powered outdoor string lights hung from a pergola, a fence line or around the bases of trees or garden hardscape also brighten up patios for parties — or even keep wildlife at bay.

Now it’s time to enjoy the great, new outdoors.

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