Magic of outdoor rooms

Extend your living space with an outdoor room. Master gardener Brian Minter tells you how.

Outdoor rooms extend your living space.

One of the great escapes may be closer than you think – maybe even just outside your door. We all need a special place to ‘get away’ from a very busy and sometimes scary world to experience serenity. This place has become a fast growing phenomenon called ‘the outdoor room’.

Outdoor rooms are a relatively new concept in North America. In an increasingly pressurized world, we have a need to be outside enjoying fresh air and nature, while doing the things we would normally do indoors. Leading edge home shows feature outdoor kitchens, bars, entertainment centers and relaxation areas – in short, complete outdoor living all year long.

In spite of what you’ve heard, size does not matter. There are some amazing small outdoor rooms which are very intimate, private and spectacular. One of the early outdoor room designers, Ruth Olde of Blasig Design, has created some delightful escapes, both small and large. By applying some amazing design techniques, even tiny rooms can seem very spacious. Well placed plants, mirrors and water features can transform small outdoor spaces into cozy corners. Because we don’t all have perfect back yards, Ruth says that sometimes the front yard is the perfect spot. If you live on a quiet street, with some good design elements, it may be the best location for an outdoor room.

I have always been concerned about the year round use of outdoor rooms and the cool, damp West Coast weather. “Not a problem,” says Ruth, who often recommends covering outdoor rooms with solid, complementary, innovative roofing. Rather than using unsightly coverings, such as fiberglass, Ruth recommends using tempered glass which is not much more expensive. Ruth also suggests that well designed skylights can offer quite a delightful effect and lighting can play a very important role in outdoor living rooms. To combat cool, damp temperatures, strategically placed  heaters can solve this problem nicely. One outdoor room I visited last fall had an outside wall designed as a fireplace. I must say on a cold October night the juxtaposition of the outdoor fireplace and warm, comfy chairs created an ambience hard to match. Okay, the wine may have helped too!

Water is not necessary as part of an outdoor room, but it sure creates atmosphere. Whether it’s an adjacent pool with koi, an elegant fountain or a stream gurgling over stones, water is calming and serene, while at the same time adding an element of interest and magic to an outdoor room that can seldom be duplicated indoors.

Plants, as always, put the finishing touches on an outdoor room. Fabulous vines, which can add perfume, privacy, colour and possibly fruit, are absolutely essential. Tall, narrow vertical trees can add delightful screening, as well as frames for lighting at night. The pièces de resistance, however, are containers. Not ordinary containers, but extraordinary ones with great design elements that move them from potted plants into the world of art.

Just Posted

Chilliwack students learn about business and charity during entrepreneurship fair

Mt. Slesse Grade 8 kids will be donating 20 per cent of their business profits to the food bank

Work wrapping up in Chilliwack on the Valley Rail Trail expansion

The trail is envisioned as the north-south spine of a future cycling network

Chilliwack saw sub-tropical blast of warm air Wednesday

It didn’t break any official records but it was warmer than usual by several degrees

Around the BCHL: Junior A cities to host World Junior tuneup games

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

GW Graham wallops Ballenas Whalers in junior football playoff

Logan Buchwitz scored four touchdowns for the Grizzlies in a one-sided 40-0 win.

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Sunrise ceremony at B.C. legislature honours Louis Riel

Nov. 16 marks the 133th anniversary of the Métis leader’s death

5 to start your day

BC Hydro says outages have tripled in the last five years, two men charged after alleged butter thefts and more

California wildfire death toll hits 63

Sheriff says hundreds still missing in nation’s deadliest wildfire

Harsh storms have nearly tripled power outages in last five years, BC Hydro says

More frequent and severe storms have damaged Hydro’s electrical systems since 2013

Trudeau to meet key Pacific trade partners at APEC leaders’ summit

Canada became one of the first six countries to ratify the CPTPP

Judge orders White House to return press pass to CNN’s Acosta

U.S. District Court Judge will decide on White House press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta

WikiLeaks chief could see charges, US court filing suggests

Charges against Julian Assange could help illuminate the question of whether Russia co-ordinated with the Trump campaign

Federal MPs denounce controversial Facebook post targeting Sajjan

Okanagan Conservatives apologize for controversial Facebook post

Most Read