9 Outdoor Living Renovations

To Splurge On This Summer

Soak up the sun with a little luxury.

There are few things you want to do more during the summer than lounge in the beautiful weather – and it would be all the better if you could do so in your own backyard. Forty-one percent of homeowners who plan on making home improvements in 2017 intend to invest in outdoor projects, according to a  of nearly 2,100 homeowners from LightStream, a division of SunTrust Banks Inc. And upgrades for comfort or simply to outdo the neighbors are getting more intense, as backyards are becoming as luxurious as home interiors. Swimming pools excluded, here are nine outdoor living renovations to splurge on this summer.

Patio or deck

Many backyard aficionados will point to a patio or deck as a must for comfortable outdoor living. National stores such as Home Depot and Lowe’s offer deck materials and installation services, although many homeowners hire local construction companies to design and build. Most homeowners will spend between $4,075 and $9,997 on a new deck, according to HomeAdvisor. You can stick to a tighter budget by designing a smaller space or opting for a material that may not be as weather-resistant, like wood you would stain or seal yourself.

The backyard of 13048 Rose Avenue in Mar Vista features a beautiful wrap-around wood deck with plenty of room for outdoor entertaining.

Fire pit

Whether you want to extend your time outdoors into fall or you’re simply a fan of s’mores, a fire pit is considered a key piece in many modern outdoor living setups. “What’s becoming the norm now is not necessarily building [fire pits] in, but building a space for them, and that way that space can be opened up for entertaining when the fire pit’s not being used,” says Nick Hanna, owner of NRC Landscape Construction in Vienna, Virginia.

With a built-in fire pit and hot tub, there are plenty of options to get cozy on a cool night at 2003 Alberta Avenue in Venice.
Whether you want to warm up or cool off, the backyard of 2550 Mandeville Canyon Road has you covered with a sleek fire pit, refreshing pool, and spa.
We must admit, with stunning oceanfront views like this, who’s really looking at the fire pit? But it is there to provide warmth and ambiance on the cantilevered balcony of 20858 Pacific Coast Hwy in Malibu.

Outdoor fireplace

For an alternative to a fire pit, take another step toward a true outdoor living room with a fireplace. In addition to the fireplace itself, factor in the cost of installation and, if it’s a gas or electric fireplace, keep room in your budget for the appropriate hookup away from the house. Of course, you can always really break the bank with a custom build from a local company. Hanna says a homeowner can spend as much as $20,000 on an outdoor fireplace if you really “go to town with the whole thing.”

This space at 1227 Preston Way in Venice not only has a large gas fireplace, but it’s a fully equipped outdoor family/media room.

Couches and chairs

Make your backyard feel just as comfortable as the inside of your home by leaving those lawn chairs at the curb and opting for outdoor couches and chairs worthy of applause. Your seating choices can transform your outdoor space into an area where everyone will want to spend as much time as possible. Especially when the furniture is situated around a fire pit or outdoor fireplace, your family will see little reason to stay inside when the weather’s nice.

You’ve got it made in the shade if you’re sitting on the patio at 2915 Clune Avenue in Venice.
This intimate courtyard at 125 N Venice Blvd is the perfect space for a comfy outdoor sectional (and a glass of chardonnay).

Master grilling station

Everyone loves a barbecue, so if you’re really looking to impress your guests, why not show off a built-in grill in your outdoor kitchen? “Spending $70,000 on an interior renovation for your kitchen inside is a no-brainer now, and spending $20,000 on an outdoor kitchen is almost the norm now,” Hanna says. An outdoor kitchen budget can easily get out of hand with trash compactors, plumbing connections and the like, but you can manage costs based on how crazy you want to get.

We’ll have it medium rare please! The built-in grilling station at 13103 Dewey Street is what you need to be the perfect BBQ host on those warm summer days.

Table for entertaining

An evening or weekend afternoon with perfect weather will make just about anyone take their meal outdoors, whether that means dragging out kitchen tables or laying down blankets to eat picnic-style. While an outdoor dining set is common in many a backyard, take it up a notch with enough seating around the table to host an entire dinner party. Outdoor tables can be purchased to match most outdoor living setups, made with wood, wicker or glass and metal. You can even invest in an outdoor table that extends to fit the party size.

Is there anything better than dining al fresco? How about dining al fresco poolside!? The backyard of 2469 Walgrove Avenue has it all.

Outdoor sound system

Hanna says an upgraded outdoor sound system, complete with buried subwoofers and speakers installed in trees, is seen as a logical next step for many homeowners who’ve already got the pool, deck, outdoor kitchen and fire pit. But an elaborate sound system isn’t just for those who have a lot of parties in their backyard. Hanna says these kinds of upgrades often come from homeowners who like to impress the occasional guest, too. “It’s pretty crazy how keeping up with the Joneses is getting very expensive,” he says.

Rooftop deck with stunning views? ✓ Top-of-the-line sound system? ✓ Favorite playlist? ✓ 4411 Roma Court in Marina del Rey gets rooftop entertaining right.

Gazebo or pergola

You’ve got the deck and comfortable seating, now why not add a little shade? A gazebo or pergola make an ideal addition to many outdoor living spaces for both a cool spot to get away from the sun as well as a more finished look. The solid roof on a gazebo can make it possible to enjoy your outdoor living space even when it’s raining, and many brands that make manufactured gazebos, pergolas or cabanas offer covers to block the sun or mosquito netting to keep out bugs.

“Throwing shade” — if we’re referring to the front porch of 2216 Superior Avenue with its stunning pergola and rattan swings, it’s a very good thing.

Water feature

A backyard swimming pool is a different beast, but if you’re simply looking to enhance an outdoor living space, consider a calming water feature. The relaxing sound of flowing water can help drown out traffic noise, create a great atmosphere for meditating or simply help spice up an otherwise boring space. Just make sure the water continues to flow to avoid inviting more mosquitoes to your backyard.

Carrying the theme through to the courtyard, this Spanish tile and terracotta fountain at 1200 5th Street fits the designer vibe of the home.
Another water feature in the backyard of 1200 5th Street in Manhattan Beach creates the relaxing sound of a babbling brook and, even better, it flows right into a gorgeous pool.