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The outdoor room—it sounds like an oxymoron. By going outside, aren’t you, by definition, leaving your rooms? How is it possible to go outside, and yet still be in a room? These are valid questions, and the topic can be confusing. But therein lies the beauty of the outdoor room—it’s up to you to decide what exactly it is, and how your it suits your purposes. 

In essence, an outdoor room is a place where you can enjoy the benefits of being outside—fresh air, breeze, bird songs, greenery—while remaining as comfortable as you would be inside. But how do you achieve this? Here are the basic elements of outdoor comfort, along with some inspiration for creating your outdoor room. 

 

Elements of Outdoor Comfort 

 

Shade

An option to sit in the shade is essential for outdoor living. Sometimes it’s inviting to sit beneath the sun, but by and large, you’ll last longer beneath a shady tree, roof, or umbrella.

 

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Seclusion

Having privacy and shelter from wind are also key. It’s never appealing to be exposed to lots of people or street traffic. Even excess exposure to a neighbor’s window can leave you feeling vulnerable and detract from your concentration and peace of mind. The same goes for wind. While a gentle breeze may be favorable, it’s hard to read, write, eat, or socialize in the path of a Chicago gale.

 

Protection from Insects  

Many insects are signs of a healthy garden, but you may want protection from buzzing and biting, depending on your tolerance and local conditions. 

 

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To add some shelter and privacy, try adding a strategically-placed privacy screen, hedge, or trellis for climbing vines. For a more permanent solution, try installing a pergola, roof, or insect screen. Our garden center would be happy to recommend landscape designs and plant selections. Of course, this all depends on the type of outdoor room you’d like. 

 

Outdoor Room Ideas

 

The Outdoor Office 

Do you dream of working outside, but want to hold on to your desk job? Well—why not move the desk outdoors? It’s a simple transition, but can be disorienting when you discover glares, wind, moisture, and an unergonomic seat. Start simplifying your needs with a standing desk. Wood flooring will be easier on your feet and electrical cables than a stone patio. A cloth canopy can protect you from sun and dew. Whatever your arrangement, you’ll notice your concentration improve with the clear air and open space to think.

 

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The Outdoor Kitchen 

All cooking used to occur over a fire in the open air, and there are benefits to moving back in that direction. Consider a stone-fired pizza oven or outdoor counter space for drying and processing herbs. You can even install an outdoor grill. Wait a minute—isn’t that just a barbecue? Not quite, outdoor grills come in a range of options, like flat-top surfaces for serving up pancakes on the patio. The outdoor kitchen doesn’t need to end with the griddle, but can also contain a sink, cupboard, counter— essentially anything you’d find indoors! And, of course, a comfortable outdoor dining set for digging in.

Contact our landscaping department, we can help!

 

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The Outdoor Living Room

A gazebo or patio can be easily converted into an outdoor “living room” with the clever use of comfortable textiles, artwork, and storage. You can extend your indoor aesthetic, or opt for a different theme like “bohemian” or “rustic charm,” depending on the way you decorate the space. While an indoor living room is primarily a place to talk with relatives at Christmas, the outdoor living room can be so much more. It can instead open up a whole variety of activities that are not possible indoors. Think whittling wood, knitting, painting, playing music, and of course, reading. Okay, most of these things you can do inside—but when you relocate them beneath the canopy of large shade trees, they become so much more fulfilling. 

You don’t need much to begin living outdoors. A lounging chair in your garden may be enough to get you started. Once you start there, you may wonder why you ever spent so much time inside.

Contact our landscaping department, we can help!

Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.