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Maximize Your Backyard with an Outdoor Living Area

Did you see The Oregonian headline today: “Portland has experienced the most wet days ever this rainy season?” While we appreciate the four seasons in the Pacific Northwest, it’s safe to say that we’re all looking forward to spending more time outdoors. To improve the indoor-outdoor flow at home, many of our clients are looking for ways to increase the livability of their backyard.

“Just because it’s outside, it doesn’t make it any less of a project. You will still need a permit, set of plans, engineering and structural permitting since the support structure doesn’t exist yet,” said Ivan France, project developer with Mountainwood Homes. “The planning and permitting process is identical to any living space addition.”

Being that it’s a structural addition, there is a longer time frame for planning and permitting compared to a kitchen or bath remodel within an existing space without major structural changes,” said France.

First you need to consider your desired outcome for the space? How is an outdoor living area going to work for your family? Do you enjoy grilling? Do you need a place to entertain large groups?

Next, think about the finish level. Do you want to walk out to same floor level as the house? Would you rather have a couple of steps? How big of an area? How exposed to weather? Do you want to have to perform maintenance out there?

There are many features of an outdoor living area that will allow you to use your space throughout the year such as:

  • Covered patios
  • Outdoor TVs for movie nights under the stars
  • Outdoor kitchens with built-in BBQs, refrigerators, etc.
  • Outdoor fireplaces to cozy up to on chilly nights
  • Fire pits
  • Built-in seating around fire pit or along deck edge or hearth
  • Accent and task lighting
  • Fans, heaters and skylights
  • Upgraded sliding doors or folding, glass doors for a seamless transition
  • Hot tub or pool
  • Patio pavers
  • Decks
  • Low-maintenance, composite decking and railing systems
  • Incorporating the landscaping with the hardscape

As with any home renovation project, it’s wise to call on the professionals to bring your vision to life. There can be challenges associated with outdoor living projects such as:

  • Tying the new structure into the existing home; Rooflines can be challenging
  • Engineering
  • The building envelope/lot setbacks
  • HOA approvals
  • Running a gas line to outdoor kitchens.

“Depending on the demand, we’ll need to run a larger line direct from the meter rather than tap off an existing line,” France said.

To maximize your backyard’s potential, involve a team that is familiar with designing and building these types of projects.

“There is a lot more involved with these projects than most people realize,” France advises. “The amount of footings and support system needed for an outdoor structure is much more in-depth and critical than you’d think because of today’s rigorous, engineering standards.”

Outdoor living projects can range anywhere from $15K – $75K+ depending on all the bells and whistles involved. It’s a broad range, but from basic patios to a complete outdoor living rooms, our team can create your ideal backyard retreat. Once completed, you’ll be able to enjoy time outdoors soaking up the sun…whenever it decides to show up.

Here is a sneak peek at some outdoor living projects we’re currently working on:

NW Portland

For this outdoor project, we installed a new, double, patio slider to connect the living room to the backyard. With a cultured stone fireplace, skylights, lighting and TV, this outdoor area is going to provide our clients much more useable space year-round to hang out as a family and to entertain friends in their backyard.


3D Rendering of this NW Portland outdoor living project with covered patio, fireplace, lighting, skylights and fans.
Construction is underway bringing this space to life.
Construction is underway bringing this space to life.

NW Portland

Two words: meat smoker. Our homeowner likes to smoke meat and uses a few smokers in the process. It was important to create a place for the smokers on the hard surface and remain under cover. A sink for the food prep was also a requirement. The outdoor living design includes a fire pit for gatherings. While we’re still in the engineering phase of this project, we’re excited to break ground and see it come to life.

The new design has a covered area for grills, prep sink and fire pit.
The concept drawing shows how the new layout will look in the existing backyard.


Thinking about an outdoor living project at your home? Contact us to begin the conversation so you can enjoy your space sooner than later.



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