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7 Inspiring Design Ideas for Outdoor Living Spaces

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If you visited this year’s Parade of Homes you may have gathered many ideas for home remodeling projects. Several of the homes on display had outdoor living spaces to showcase. There were decks, screened porches, a three-season room, two pools with hardscape, firepits and a pool house to view.

Here are seven inspiring design ideas from homes in Central New York where we’ve worked with the owners to build custom outdoor living spaces.

1.  Decks

We build a lot of composite and wood decks. Deck additions remain one of the most popular outdoor living projects.

A deck can be a very large space or a small addition providing access to a yard for enjoying warm days. There are many new features for decks for decks that you may want to consider when planning your project including glass panels to optimize a view, ornamental balusters, a variety of railings, deck lighting and customized seating.

Composite decking has many advantages. It is user-friendly. You can walk barefoot on the deck without worrying about splinters. It is easy to maintain and can be cleaned off with a hose. It comes in a range of colors and does not require annual sealing or staining.

Composite decking can be laid in patterns to create architectural interest. A popular product that homeowners often choose is DuraLife composite decking.

DuraLife composite deck

The composite deck boards closely resemble wood and are barefoot friendly since there are no exposed wood fibers or nails on the surface. The decking is stain and fade resistant.

2.  Porches

A sheltered porch with windows can be enjoyed from spring through mid-fall and for reading, relaxing, dining or growing plants.

Screened porches provide protection from insects and comfort on warm summer nights.

Open porches provide shelter from the hot sun and rain.

To help keep porches cool, more homeowners are adding ceiling fans. Ceiling fans can also help keep the bugs away from an open porch.

screened porch addition

This screened porch addition provides an expanded space for summer dining and entertainment. It also creates a space for shaded seating off a patio.

3.  Patios

Building a patio area can provide extended outdoor living space by integrating a house and garden. Combining a deck with a patio can also extend usable outdoor space and provide a low maintenance solution to outdoor living.

three-season sunroom and patio

This three-season room addition leads to a patio area for outdoor entertaining. The room is enclosed with glass panels and has skylights. Brick pavers were used for the patio.

4.  Pools and Hot Tubs

Pools always require a surround and fencing. Pool surrounds can be constructed with pavers, concrete or decking material.

Hot tubs often require a deck that hides mechanicals and provides a place for storage. If the pool is located some distance from a house, a pool house is a good option for providing a place for people to gather or dry off and for storing pool supplies.

composite deck with hot tub

This composite deck with a covered porch and hot tub has a concrete pathway that leads to an in-ground pool. A stamped concrete patio surround for the pool provides ample space for gatherings. Stamped concrete can have the look of stone pavers and is easy to maintain. The owners added a multi-purpose pool house.

5.  Outdoor Fireplaces and Firepits

One of the hottest trends in outdoor living spaces is adding an outdoor fireplace or firepit to your yard. These features are great for outdoor entertaining, especially in our climate. Big box stores offer wood burning firepits but they aren’t very durable, have a limited capacity and have to be replaced frequently.  Custom firepits made of stone are more permanent and use either wood or gas as fuel.

outdoor wood burning fireplace and pizza oven

This lakefront deck and porch addition includes a large stone fireplace wall, featuring a pizza oven, wood burning fireplace and two wood storage spaces. A granite hearth complements the fireplace.

6.  Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens are being added to more homes in Central New York for people who enjoy grilling and entertaining. While a grill is an essential component, there are other appliances, sinks and storage units made for outdoor use. Granite can also be used in an outdoor kitchen and will withstand the elements.


This lakefront home features a covered outdoor room addition with kitchen area. A gas grill, refrigerator, storage cabinets and a bar sink were built into a stone veneered island with a granite countertop. The addition also includes seating and dining areas, specialty lighting and an outdoor fireplace with a pizza oven.

7.  Sunroom Additions

Our climate limits the days when we can enjoy the outdoors. A sunroom addition with a view of the yard is an asset in any season and can be built to open onto a patio or deck.

sunroom addition and patio

This year-round sunroom addition connects the home with its outdoor surroundings. The outdoor living area is extended by a patio during warm months.