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Cool Living Spaces-What In The Heck Are We Talking About?

cool outdoor living space with brick columns, a railing, oscillating fans, and a beautiful outdoor view

Introduction

Cool living spaces have become more prevalent in the past decade, especially during the Covid quarantine. People have needed cool outdoor living spaces and have found that their outdoor spaces have been prime “real estate” to improve. 

For many, being outside can enjoy having extra living space, and ultimately, feel safer having guests come to visit.   

Types of Cool Living Spaces And Their Definitions

Patio

The Spanish word “Patio” means an area in your backyard or back garden. It was more common to dine outdoors in Europe than in the United States back in the early 1900s. The United States didn’t start building patios until the 1950s.   

The “patios” usually were connected to a residence and used as a place for dining, entertainment, and relaxation. However, some patios were attached to restaurants in the bigger cities. One was the Hotel St. Moritz in New York City.  

Patios are paved (concrete) and sit right on the ground. In the 1960s,  construction workers built another patio at the Toronto Star. It was dubbed the first of its kind for outdoor continental dining.  

Most patios are considered “sheltered.” In other words, they often have a roof over them to provide extra protection from the weather elements. Additionally, patios are attached or detached from the residence, and generally, the homeowners state their preference. 

Veranda or Lanai

Verandah, or the more commonly spelled, “Veranda” means that it has a roof and attaches to the outside of the building at the ground level.  

Many veranda’s have extended areas in both the front and the sides of the building. Most often, railings surround the veranda.  

The word “veranda” has become more prevalent in recent years. A lanai is the same structure, but the term is used mainly in Hawaii, Florida, and India.  

Americans call “verandas” porches, while other countries are comfortable calling them verandas. 

Porch

A porch is usually at the front of the building or home, part of the main structure. Some porches even have a separate roof from the rest of the building and are always covered.

Most porches are on the outside of the walls of the parent building or house. Some porches can have more structure to include walls, posts, and screens. 

“Screened porches are often called 3 season porches” because they offer protection from the weather with the added screen.

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I had a screened porch in Minnesota. I loved it because it provided shelter from the mosquitos. It was OK to sit out while raining as the porch didn’t get wet on the inside. I relaxed on an egg chair that was so cute and comfortable. It has now made its way to Arizona to my new home.

It was a great way to enjoy the birds, the refreshing air, and observing the seasonal changes before your eyes.   I love porches!

Deck

Wood is the most used material to build a deck. However, decks can also have composite materials making them stain-free every few years.

Using a composite material for deck-building, a combination of wood and plastic ensures the owner of low maintenance and can simulate wood.  

Many new homeowners want a beautiful deck that looks like wood but doesn’t splinter or crack. Less maintenance equals more time to enjoy the deck.  

Decks are without a roof and are at the side or the back of the home. Similar to a patio, it is used primarily for entertaining, dining. My favorite use is for a place to relax. 

One last point about a deck can be at ground level or higher with a staircase attached to it. Often when a deck is more elevated than ground level, people refer to the deck as a balcony.  

Portico

Although less heard of, a portico is another name for a porch. Portico comes from Greek and Roman etymology. It refers to a structure attached to a residence or building, covered or sheltered. It is generally a walkway or path from one area to another.  

Many builders choose to build entrances using well-spaced columns supporting the hall. Many people refer to a portico as a part of the structure that hangs over the columns. Some also call them awnings.  

Porticos have influenced American architecture and can be seen in retirement communities for residents to enjoy and many other places.   

Gazebo

A gazebo is built as a free-standing structure with a roof often providing full shade. Additionally, most gazebos are octagonal, encased by a screen.

Gazebos are incredibly wonderful for relaxing in the cool shade while having an unhampered view of a beautiful garden or wildlife area.  

Gazebos offer an excellent area for families and friends to gather for entertainment, dining, and the enjoyment of nature. Some people also have electricity in the gazebo for small refrigerators, lights, and outlets for radios and TV. 

Pergola

Like a gazebo, a pergola is a free-standing structure. As some people call them, a pergola or pavilion has a roof. You can often see pergolas built-in neighborhood parks where people go to cook food and gather with friends and family. Additionally, pergolas have shelter from either too much sun or unexpected rain.  

A Pergola has columns that support the roof, and it is open on the sides. Pergolas, built from wood, brick, and concrete materials, have a strong structure.  

Must-Haves For Outdoor Spaces

These spaces are perfect for families and friends to gather in, dine, and do many other activities. Some things add to these areas make them unique to those who have them.

For example, an add-on list of things may include the following:

  • Music for listening to, dancing to, or singing.
  • Both flowers and green plants are in colored pots or planters.  
  • A sitting area or area where everyone can find a place to relax while putting their feet up, can cuddle up with blankets when resting, or read magazines or books, to name a few options.
  • A table for dining. It could be a picnic table or overstuffed cushions on chairs, pillows, sofas, using low maintenance materials while enjoying the outdoors to eat meals, play cards, play board games, and do arts and crafts.
  • Patio misters can cool down your outdoor living area by 20-30 degrees. Take advantage of these in the hot times of the year.
  • A stereo and tv for listening to and watching great movies! TV’s are a must at my house.
  • A ceiling fan or misting fan is possible for hot days.
  • A heat source such as fire pits (wood or clean-burning propane), fireplaces, outdoor heaters including electric, propane, and infrared heat for the cool days are always a good option.
  • A small fridge for having favorite beverages handy is critical!
  • A bar or gathering spot with or without tall chairs adds to any outdoor space.

The Final Analysis

Using your cool outdoor space as an added living area is an excellent way to bring the outdoors to your casual living experiences. The great outdoors can be utilized as a living space for many temperatures if you have a suitable space and set up.

If you have:

  • a patio
  • a veranda/lanai
  • porch
  • deck
  • portico
  • gazebo
  • pergola 

You have the option of making an incredible outdoor living space where you can enjoy the outdoors, friends, food, games, movies, relaxation (I call it naps), and many other enjoyable things. Many new homes have initial blueprints to include their outdoor haven.  

Even if you don’t have one of these areas, adding or building an area that could serve as your go-to place may be possible. Some of these structures are less expensive than others to add to your existing home, but the return on investment can be up to 12.4%.

That is an excellent investment, and if you have any extra money to put into your house, outdoor living spaces are the ticket!

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post about cost-saving additions. Maybe you will find some money in the budget for creating cool outdoor living spaces.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to hear from you in the comments below.  

Take care,

Marla

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