In recent years, In recent years, one of the greatest design innovations for the luxury home has been the evolution from the standard “plain vanilla” patios into spacious Outdoor Entertaining Areas (OEA). No longer just a place for a few chairs and a table, the new OEA creates a space for all your outdoor needs. Whether just relaxing while the kids swim, watching the game, having a casual outdoor dinner or entertaining a large outdoor party, the new OEA has you covered.

The basic spaces that are necessary in the design of the OEA are a Living Room, a Dining Room and a Summer Kitchen. What are the essential design components of each space? First, it is important that the Living Room must be an ample size to incorporate a full size seating arrangement with seating for the whole family, a fireplace and a large flatscreen TV with surround sound. Second, the Dining Room needs to have room for a generous table that can accommodate either a candlelight dinner party or a band of hungry kids. Finally, there’s the Summer Kitchen that can be just the basics with grill, refrigerator and sink. Or, if space and budget allow, you can have a full-blown kitchen with extras like a bar for serving, warming drawers, pizza oven, a “kegarator” , or even a hibachi grill. The amenities choices for this space are truly unlimited.

After the basics, you can look to see what is new and innovative that can solve some of the challenges of having an OEA in Texas. The first challenge is the Texas heat which can shorten the season for comfortable outdoor living. Sure, ceiling fans and misters certainly help, but the newest trend is controlled air-conditioning systems. With the use of either a separate AC unit or a dampening system, you can now cool down that Texas heat. The second challenge to outdoor living in Texas is bugs, mainly mosquitoes. There’s a solution for that too; retractable screens that can be raised and lowered automatically. When lowered, these screens can provide the protection from the bugs, but can be raised out of site when you’re not outside.

For a designer, the primary challenge is how to open up the new OEA to the rest of the home and create rooms that are natural extensions of the indoor rooms. The new folding French door systems that are on the market today give you the ability to create a clear opening to over 20 feet when opened, and best of all they are beautiful. These folding French door systems can create a true “Lanai Style” indoor/outdoor space for entertaining.

Once you have the right spaces and have solved the basic challenges in your OEA, it can be tied together architecturally. The overall style of the home design needs to be extended into the outdoor areas. Whether your home is “Old World”, “French Country” or “Modern” you can have architectural flare outside. With the use of natural stones, exposed wood and distinctive ceiling treatments, you can create an outdoor space that is architecturally stunning.

Whether you are designing your new dream home or just want to remodel your existing home, a great Outdoor Entertainment Area is a must. With all the innovations and design possibilities available today, you are only limited by your imagination and budget.