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Create an inviting living area outdoors

Outdoor living rooms are a booming trend in home design, representing a creative way to expand your home's living areas. And they add value to your home, with home buyers ranking such outdoor spaces fifth on their top 10 list of must-have home features, according to an annual survey by Avid Ratings Co. These days it's no longer about a simple picnic table on a patio or deck. There are many ways to create the right ambience — from cozy seating areas to outdoor fireplaces to full outdoor kitchens. StatePoint Media

Perfect lighting: Affordable outdoor lights can do more than just illuminate pathways and steps for safety. Get creative with up-lighting at the base of trees, plants or structures to provide a dramatic glow. Or opt for warm portable lights that enhance your space's mood.

On the floor: Between tiles, wood paneling, carpeting and area rugs, there are myriad flooring choices for your home's interior. The same is now true outdoors. Decks and patios come in all shapes, sizes and surfaces. Depending on your surrounding environment, everything from slate tiles to wood planks can do the trick. But even something as simple as an outdoor rug can define your outdoor room.

Around the fireplace: What better way to bring people together outdoors than a warm, crackling fireplace? Choose one with stainless steel construction, built to handle the rigors of the elements. Different fireplaces offer different features, such as the Merit Plus, which sports a traditional design, or the Oasis LS0-43, which boasts one of the largest viewing areas to watch those flames. You even can opt for the convenience of gas models, such as the Lennox Elite Series, which is ventless and requires no chimney. A hearth easily serves as a centerpiece around which to arrange outdoor furniture. Its radiant heat also allows you to continue enjoying your space during cooler months.

Outdoor kitchens: Kitchens aren't just for indoors. Many upscale appliances are available for outdoor installation. While barbecue grills are fine by themselves, gas-powered stoves, outdoor rotisseries, burners and granite countertops also help homeowners get in touch with their inner and outdoor chef.

"By extending your home's living spaces to the great outdoors with comfy seating and an outdoor fireplace or kitchen, you can give your friends and family more space to enjoy while increasing your house's resale value," says Robert Dischner, director of marketing for Lennox Hearth Products.

For more information on outdoor home enhancements, visit

Create an inviting living area outdoors 04/11/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 11, 2010 4:30am]
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