Outdoor Rooms Increasing in Popularity Among Homeowners

by Shilpi Paul

Outdoor Rooms Increasing in Popularity Among Homeowners: Figure 1
Moody Landscape Architecture’s Outdoor Room

It appears that homeowners are now looking out the window when thinking about changes that they can make to their house.

The American Institute of Architect’s recent Home Design Trends Survey found that recent “investments within the home have focused on increasing energy efficiency and fostering outdoor living environments” and that changes to the home office and outdoor areas led home investments in the second quarter of 2011. Ryan Moody, principal architect of Moody Landscape Architecture believes the trend holds in DC.

“[A lot of people] who were anticipating moving into a larger home now don’t have the budget to move.” Moody told UrbanTurf. “Their kitchens and bathrooms are already done, but they want to enhance their living situation, so they look outside.”

The idea behind an outdoor room is that, for many months out of the year, it can serve the same purpose as any space that has walls, a ceiling and electricity flowing to it. Moody said that the often-neglected back patio and garden are spots that people want to transform into highly functional outdoor rooms by using materials (brick, wood, trees and shrubs) that are “tough and can withstand frost, wind and rain.” Moody believes the key to making the outdoor room connect with the rest of the house is to take inspiration from inside the property. So, for example, if there is an exposed brick wall in the house, try and extend it to serve as a wall of the outdoor room.

Outdoor Rooms Increasing in Popularity Among Homeowners: Figure 2
Before: Capitol Hill row house patio.

Outdoor Rooms Increasing in Popularity Among Homeowners: Figure 3
After: Outdoor kitchen and dining area.

In a recent project, one of his clients on Capitol Hill wanted to turn an overgrown backyard into a working kitchen and outdoor dining room. So, Moody created a charcoal grill and preparation area and a separate dining space that could fit six people. He surrounded the grill with a usable stone countertop, and made the dining area feel distinct by lifting it up by a step and putting the table and chairs under a pergola.

A client in Dupont Circle had a screened-in porch that looked out into a backyard, and he wanted to display sculpture outside and have a pretty way to store his tools. Moody split the garden into two zones to accommodate both needs. Using permeable pavers and a fountain, Moody created a gallery courtyard feel and displayed the aluminum sculptures on a ledge directly opposite the porch. The brick utility shed blends in and the doors are hidden from view of the house.

Outdoor Rooms Increasing in Popularity Among Homeowners: Figure 4
Before: View from a Dupont Circle porch.

Outdoor Rooms Increasing in Popularity Among Homeowners: Figure 5
After: View into the sculpture garden.

In addition to fire pits and urban gardens, Moody sees a growing number of DC residents (particularly those in row houses) who are eager to create storage. “That’s one of the biggest problems with small houses: no storage. The outdoor room can be a place to consider. Maybe a bench opens up for storage? Can a shed be an attractive feature?”

Outdoor room projects can range in price from $10,000 to $50,000. Moody and his associate are currently working on a bonsai garden for a Brookland resident, and have projects going in Cleveland Park, Potomac and American University Park.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/outdoor_rooms_becoming_popular_option/4567

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