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Ask McEnearney: How do I create an outdoor room?


This week’s Q&A column is sponsored and written by Susan Craft of McEnearney Associates Realtors®, the leading real estate firm in Alexandria. To learn more about this article and relevant Alexandria market news, contact Susan Craft at 703-216-4501 or email [email protected]. You may also submit your questions to McEnearney Associates via email for response in future columns.

Question: How do I create an outdoor room?

Answer: Think about how you will use the space.

What are you trying to create? Additional living space, scenic views, privacy — all of the above?

The first thing an outdoor room does is provide additional living space with the added bonus of enjoying nature — the warmth of the sun on your face (wear sunscreen, you’ll thank me later), the chirping of birds (wow, loud!) and, yes, the occasional red fox trotting by during morning coffee. I’m used to Mr. Fox now. Initially startled, it quickly became clear that he had places to go and no time to bother with me. I look forward to his next visit. And the greatest entertainment has to be Chip & Dale who chase each other through the flower beds and occasionally peek out from under the chair as if to say, ‘We’re back for another summer of fun!’

Group your space according to the way you’ll use it. For me, that’s a conversation circle — chairs arranged in a circle (or square) to chat with friends (socially distanced, of course) or to sit and read decor magazines. The lounge chair is essential for a 15-minute power nap.

Bistro tables for an intimate dinner for two or pushed together for larger gatherings provide a fresh take on dining throughout the day — complete with an outdoor grill, which makes for easy kitchen cleanup. The umbrellas over the two bistro tables provide shade from the sun and keep a light drizzle from spoiling a meal or sending me inside. Hang a lantern under the umbrella for evening dining.

Before, during and after patio construction

You’ll need a quality contractor. Choose a patio material like flagstone or brick and determine the amount of space you have to work with. Go as big as you can — you want to be able to walk around without bumping into furniture. And don’t forget to put a PVC pipe under the patio to run wires for landscape lighting because that, my friend, is the secret to the outdoor room lasting long into the evening. Bring out a Bose wireless speaker and a few citronella candles, and you can rock the night away. Add a firepit or heater and extend the season (though a mohair blanket and a hot drink work, too).

For the landscape plan, think spring, not summer, for planting, and remember to constantly water the new trees, bushes and plants while they establish roots. Delight in blooms and color, but start with evergreens as your base. The green wall offers privacy and fabulous views even in the winter.

An essential element of the outdoor room is how it looks from inside as it draws your eye outward and makes the interior feel larger for extended, blended living spaces. Low windows and/or patio doors help create this seamless outdoor room extension.

Enjoying nature… 1) Azalea season; 2) and 3) Mr. & Mrs. Cardinal as viewed from inside; 4) Winter landscape with lighting

Give some thought to bloom timing. What blooms early spring, late spring and summer? What changes color in the autumn? (Fire bush!) What will stay evergreen all winter so you always have a serene view and privacy? Enjoy the evolving personality and color as you time the blooms. A professional landscaper — most garden centers have them — can guide you on bloom timing.

Susan Craft is a licensed real estate agent with McEnearney Associates, Inc. in Old Town. Her success has been built on the art of listening and providing excellent personal service to deliver the results people want, expect and deserve. For a no-obligation consultation, call or text 703-216-4501 or email [email protected] today!

If you would like a question answered in our weekly column or to set up an appointment with one of our Associates, please email: [email protected] or call 703-549-9292.

McEnearney Associates Realtors®, 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. www.McEnearney.com Equal Housing Opportunity. #WeAreAlexandria

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