Outdoor Living Minnesota Guide

The Ultimate Guide

Outdoor living spaces are one of the top home improvement investments for Minnesotans today.

The lifestyle and entertainment benefits are limited only by your vision and the budget for bringing them to life. One of the top reasons for creating this guide is to show how beautiful and functional outdoor living spaces are possible with even a modest budget.

Some of the most common and costly outdoor living mistakes are attributable to having an unlimited budget. More important is a reliable process for solving the predictable outdoor room and landscaping problems.

An outdoor room can be a stand-alone structure, like a gazebo or pool house. More often it is a series of spaces that work together, with at least one of them attached to the main residence.  For them to work together the project must be well-designed and crafted to last.  

We understand that can be a significant undertaking. That’s why we’ve put together this guide of resources to smooth out that process. In most circumstances, you will need to hire professionals, such as a designer, draftsman, or an architect. 

However, the most important role is often the project manager. The right individual will know about permitting and how to manage the trades to keep the project on time and budget. Of course, your involvement will be necessary from time to time to ensure it reflects your vision and personal style.

Like anything else, the more you know about outdoor living the easier it will be to make optimal choices and decisions. So take your time with this. Scroll down to find the full table of contents. It is broken into categories that align with the typical process of imagining, building, and enjoying an outdoor living lifestyle.  

Planning, Designing, and Budgeting For Outdoor Living

The concept of outdoor living dates back centuries to European and Asian cultures. Ultimately these influences shaped modern landscape architecture here in the United States. 

One of the leading pioneers of this movement was landscape architect Thomas Dolliver Church. Inspired by Classical and Renaissance garden traditions, Thomas Church observed they worked well in the Mediterranean climate of California. It was not long before this California Style of outdoor living and outdoor rooms influenced landscapes across the United States. 

Thomas Church outlined his design process in the book, Gardens Are For People. One of the key principles of this style is the integration of and flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. Church is credited with what we know today as outdoor rooms, areas for outdoor living as distinct spaces within the whole landscape. 

The popularity of outdoor rooms for regularly connecting with natural environments is backed by science. Health and behavioral benefits accrue to people that spend time outdoors.

Did you know that how people process information is affected by their environment? If it’s a sunny day people will take the good and the bad in stride. Whereas cloudy days or closed, artificial environments will cloud their view of the world.

The term landscape architecture signals the long history of outdoor environments as an extension of traditional structures, namely the home. The wealthy had the financial means and the time to afford and enjoy outdoor rooms and gardens.

Nowadays architectural landscape design and functional outdoor spaces are considered essential for Minnesota home buyers. Explore these articles to gain insights into balancing the nice to have with what’s necessary to enhance your lifestyle. 

Outdoor Kitchens, Dining, and Living Rooms

Following the principles discussed thus far, it’s important to note that outdoor kitchens, dining, and living rooms complement their indoor counterparts, rather than replace them. Whether your outdoor rooms are designed with your home or they come later, following this guiding principle will make them better.

This will further maximize their potential. Some indoor kitchens have the capability for grilling, but given a choice, an outdoor kitchen can be better equipped for this activity. 

Is the indoor or outdoor living room better for celebrating children’s birthday parties? Notwithstanding the weather, moving the event to an outdoor room allows for the activities to spill over to the greater lawn space that connects to it. 

The key is to consider the transitions between rooms and the activities they will accommodate. 

For example, if children are involved and a swimming pool is one of the landscape features, safety precautions will need to be considered. There will be city or county safety codes to adhere to, but there is no need to stop there to keep everyone safe. 

Outdoor Furniture, Features, and Electronics

One of the best-known examples of integrating indoor and outdoor spaces is Frank Lloyd Wrights’s Fallingwater, a former residence that is now a tourist attraction in southwestern Pennsylvania. 

“Wright understood that people are creatures of nature, hence an architecture which conformed to nature would conform to what was basic in people,” according to the home’s only owner

Using focal points, horizons, and engineering that was innovative at that time, Wright created one of his most iconic masterpieces.

Frank Lloyd Wright was known to build furniture and features into his homes to complement the architecture. This can limit flexibility but can also effectively conceal storage space in outdoor rooms to minimize clutter. 

Furniture and features can present challenges with outdoor rooms that are only discovered after their completion. We suggest mapping out the room, where the furniture will be placed, how lighting will work, and so on. The following resources offer dozens of additional insights.

Outdoor Living Lifestyle Ideas and Trends

Anything exposed to the elements will require regular care and occasional maintenance. The design and planning stage is a good time to consider the balance between aesthetics and care. 

Natural, synthetic, and engineered materials and finishes will all require some degree of care, even if it is simply periodic power washing to remove minor discoloration due to elements in the environment. If your flooring is wood and it’s exposed to the elements it will need to be sealed every few years. If a space is protected from the elements, a bright floor rug may be just enough to brighten the space. 

Some materials like wood provide warmth and charm, but there will be a need for regular upkeep. On the flip side, the initial construction costs will most likely be lower. For decking, rails, and stairs, there are newer synthetic materials, as well as durable coated aluminum that simulates traditional wood construction. 

Planned upgrades can be installed at a later date to minimize initial construction costs. Even if action is not taken to do so, the value is captured and can be marketed when the time comes to sell the home. 

Some of the most common upgrades for outdoor rooms are flooring, siding, and roofing materials, doors, windows, and of course, electronics. Keeping up with technology is a given, especially now that most wiring is being replaced by wifi or Bluetooth technology. 

Therefore, get the basics such as electricity and water in place, but try to plan ahead for whatever may come along. Spaces within walls and beneath or above structures should be created whenever possible to accommodate these unforeseen needs.