The outdoor living area should be adjacent to and accessible from the indoor living area. It is a poor plan that provides the only access to the outdoors by way of the kitchen. The outdoor living area extends the functions of indoor living to the outdoors. It provides a place to sit, entertain, eat, sleep, and sunbathe.
The elements that are part of the outdoor living area are likely to be the lawn, terraces, paths, trees, flowers, screens for privacy, pools, garden houses, fireplaces, and barbecues.
The term “terrace” and “patio” are often used for much the same thing. Originally, the terms were quite different in meaning. The word “patio” referred traditionally to an inner courtyard, or hollow square, open to the sky. The word “terrace” referred to a raised level space or platform of earth supported by a wall or bank of earth. Frequently, it referred to a level strip of raised ground parallel with a house.
Today, either term suggests one of the most important areas of outdoor living. It may be away from the house or it may be near the house and surfaced to permit dancing; it may be small or large. It is related in proportion and size to the house and the uses intended for it.
It may be rectangular, curving, straight, or angled, informal or formal in outline. It may reach out some distance, even at unpredictable angles, seek a tree here for shade, a vantage point there for a view or breeze. It may encompass lawn spaces, trees, or other features. Its floor may be of brick, flagstone, lawn, or other materials.
A pool, if part of the living area, may take a variety of forms, with shallow depths for wading or reflections, or greater depths for swimming. It may be set apart in an area by itself or it may be located in or near the center of the living area.
The sound and sight, reflected light, and playful motion of fountains make them important focal points in the outdoor living area.
Outdoor dining areas have the same requirements as indoor dining areas. The surroundings should be beautiful, private, and quite. The outdoor dining area must relate to the indoor food preparation area, even though food preparation facilities may be part of the outdoor area. This does not mean that outdoor dining should be confined to one space. Actually, variety in the dining places makes for interest. However, the regular dining areas should be conveniently located in relation to the kitchen.
The outdoor dining area may be a visual extension of the kitchen and may include such related features as a barbecue, or a herb and vegetable garden. Seasonal vegetables are often beautiful in their own right. A vertical wall or fence of strawberry plants, for instance, can be useful and decorative feature.