Create spectacular spaces for outdoor living | Calgary Herald

outdoor living

The drinks are on ice, the country playlist is cranked and friends are on their way.

Calgarians are ready to celebrate the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth with some of the best backyard Stampede-style parties in some of the best backyards in the West.

Backyards that have two-stepped into the 21st century by becoming glamorous, multi-purpose three-season outdoor living spaces. Can we get a Yahoo?

“People are beginning to realize what an outdoor living space truly is,” says Danny Ritchie, president of Ultimate Renovations in Calgary. “They see our show homes that feature outdoor living spaces that have kitchens, but they’re noticing that they can also put a TV out there and a wood-burning fireplace and a heater. They’re thinking, man, I can almost be out there all winter.”

Ritchie says more people want to be outside, so decks are getting larger to accommodate fancy kitchens, dining areas, bars and conversation areas. Deck space is also being covered by a roof to protect everything and everyone from the elements.

“An outdoor area that’s not covered or heated isn’t really a living space,” he admits.

Decks and patios are designed to create flow from the inside of the home outward and visa versa. With extensive use of glass, large windows and doors that fold accordion-style, the indoor and outdoor space becomes one.

Jeff Campbell, founder of Calgary’s Vision Scapes, thinks that people gather in outdoor spaces just like they do in the kitchen.

“People like to build spectacular kitchens because that’s the heart of the home. We’re trying to take that exact same principle and apply it to the outside. We create another heart, so that the outdoor kitchen isn’t just a place to cook,” he says. “We’ve put in a bar or a chef’s table so guests or family can be with whoever is cooking and enjoy a glass of wine as they watch.”

He figures 30 to 40 per cent of his customers want outdoor kitchens, which often include a grill, a bar fridge, outdoor storage and sometimes unique accessories like a smoker, a sink or a sear station.

“I had a client last year who loved cooking breakfast outside. We installed a flat grill and he does his pancakes and bacon out there. His wife loves it because the house doesn’t smell like bacon,” Campbell says.

In looking at the backyard, he notes that often people try to cram everything they want in an outdoor space within the first 20 feet around the house.

“The interior of the home isn’t designed that way. You have open-concept living and then you have rooms in the home and we also try to create that open concept yet with destinations within the yard. That could be a firepit in the corner or a unique play area for the kids. Using the entire space is integral to great design,” he says.

Outdoor living is a “thing” all over the world. It’s starting to become more of a thing in Calgary because we’ve finally realized there are ways to stay warm.

“It’s not that people don’t want a pool or that type of space. They just want a return on investment in usable time for it. We’re working to find a way to make weather not as much of an issue by using heaters, automated pergola systems that close off over outdoor kitchens and living areas. People have done heated decks around their pool to allow them to run late into the fall,” he says.

Campbell, as one of the designers within Vision Scapes, says he’s always studying what’s happening in outdoor design in Los Angeles, Florida, Brazil and overseas.

“Honestly and unfortunately, trends in construction don’t start in Western Canada,” he says smiling.

This content was originally published here.