Take It Outside

Homeowners need your guidance to help marry form and function in outdoor living spaces.

This Florida lakefront home had an existing screened porch that remodeler Jack McGrath replaced with a lanai.

The existing screened porch, seen from inside, did not provide the ideal lake view.

The new lanai has a large opening on the long side, which is flanked by two doorways. The shorter side also has a large opening. To create an unimpeded view, McGrath chose electrical screens for the large opening (Executive Screens by Phantom) that retract into the top of the openings. The two doorways have manual screens. The interior and exterior walls are all low-maintenance stucco.

The custom-made outdoor cabinets are made of steel stud frames covered with cement board and topped with a stucco finish. He chooses materials carefully because they have to hold up to Florida's high humidity. The low-maintenance floor is made of 20-inch porcelain tile. The ceiling is covered with lumber recycled from another job.

The owners of this house in Illinois wanted to add interest to their existing home with an outdoor living space, but also wanted privacy.

Remodeler Chris Ebert of Normandy Builders added a covered porch next to the family room addition.

Ebert found decorative ways to provide additional screening, including a pergola, and tall "planter platforms" to hold containers.

The porch steps down to a deck platform for good flow when the family is entertaining.

The "planter platforms" are part of the deck rail, so they don't take up floor space and can drain onto the ground.

The front facade of the house also needed some visual interest.

Ebert updated the front of the house, using the same stone column design as he used on the back porch.

The owners of this large Texas house wanted to add a new pool, a pool house with an art studio, and an outdoor kitchen.

The covered outdoor room extends out from the pool house. Remodeler Don Mason and the team at Don Mason Builders built the room, which includes a fireplace, vaulted ceiling and ceiling fan.

The outdoor fireplace adds welcome warmth and light to cool evenings.

Mason says outdoor kitchens usually have a simple design with with an under-counter refrigerator, sink and grill. This long granite countertop provides plenty of space for preparing and serving food.

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