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When the weather heats up, attention turns toward the outdoors, and, more and more, people are choosing to spend their outdoor time in their own yard. We’ve come a long way from plastic chairs gathered around a kiddie pool while hot dogs cook on the portable grill. Today’s outdoor rooms are warm, elegant spaces for cooking, eating, and relaxing. Each room reflects the personal style and lifestyle needs of the homeowner, while allowing for everyday indoor-outdoor living.

Outdoor rooms are predicted to continue to be one of the highest priorities when it comes to designing a yard, according to the 2013 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects. The survey asked landscape architects nationwide to rate the most popular outdoor design elements for 2013. Outdoor living spaces, which they defined as “kitchens and entertainment spaces,” rated 94.5 percent on the popularity scale.

Outdoor Living Rooms

Couch, check. Rug, check. TV, check. Today’s outdoor living rooms aren’t all that different from what you’d find indoors. The materials may be weather-treated. The TV may be waterproof. The view will arguably be better.

You could sit inside and lounge on the couch, or you could do your lounging while enjoying the great outdoors. Increasingly, the latter choice is becoming the norm—especially when there is a fire element involved. The ASLA survey found that firepits and fireplaces rate a 97 percent popularity rate for 2013—second only to terraces/patios/decks at 97.6 percent.

Outdoor Dining Rooms

Dining al fresco is not a new concept. But the extent that homeowners today will go to create an incredible outdoor dining area that is used for more than an occasional meal or a dinner party is on the rise.

Creating a gathering space where family and friends can sit around the table, talk, eat, and share stories is the goal of most indoor dining rooms. Same goes for outdoor dining rooms, where spaces run the gamut from casual to romantic to rustic to elegant.

Outdoor Kitchens

The outdoor kitchen is no longer the grill that gets used a couple of times a summer. Today, outdoor kitchens are as beautiful and functional as the ones with four walls and a roof. Designed in any architectural style from traditional to modern to Tuscan, outdoor kitchens often feature grills integrated into a large, functional area that can include everything you’d find in your indoor kitchen—stove, refrigerator, sink, dishwasher—and more. Even a pizza oven.

Adding a pergola or patio covering to the outdoor kitchen, as well as other outdoor rooms, provides shelter as well as the opportunity to add lighting, heat lamps, and fans overhead.

No matter what your style, an outdoor room can take your enjoyment of your outdoor space to new heights. Looking for even more inspiration for your outdoor room? Check out this fully equipped outdoor kitchen in Camarillo, this luxe outdoor living room in Malibu, and this charming outdoor dining room in Beverly Hills. Or, check out some of these amazing spaces, led off by an outdoor bedroom designed by famed designer Jamie Durie.

What do you think of the outdoor room? Would you start with an outdoor living room or an outdoor kitchen?

Photo Courtesy: 1479 Carla Ridge, Beverly Hills, CA. Represented by Jade Mills.