At home in the great outdoors |

At home in the great outdoors

Kathy Filgo

We are a community that by nature loves the outdoors its the reason most of us moved here in the first place. Whether were an extreme athlete jumping off cliffs on skis and snowboards or someone who enjoys the calmer pace of a deck chair with a view, we all have the same thing in common we cant get enough of the outdoor experience.As we bid goodbye to winter, thoughts are turning to summer and how to extend the outdoor living and entertaining situation in our homes. We are looking for ways to expand the size of the outdoor space at home and make that space more comfortable. Diana Mathias, real estate broker with Slifer Smith & Frampton, says clients are looking for big decks and patios so family and friends can enjoy the great Rocky Mountains. Buyers are also looking for extensive outdoor barbecue units to make that space more livable and if a home doesnt have it, they are having one built in. She adds that a covered barbecue becomes a cooking tool that is used year-round. Decks and patios are space that people want to have and want to use, plus theres an added bonus. Deck and patio space is not counted in the square footage of your home. Its like having an extra room outside thats not counted as living space and isnt taxed, explains Diana. Decks have become very elaborate with beautiful furniture, firepits, patio heaters, rugs, and are often used as summer dining rooms. Its the type of environment that helps create a lovely experience special, memorable evenings. Cooking outside on a covered barbecues is one way to extend the season during which we use our decks. Amenities such as heaters and firepits are ways in which we can add to the year-round pleasure of our decks and patios, as well as the good old standby the hot tub.There is a continual desire to extend the outdoor living season and architects play a big part in making this possible, says Judy Phillips, owner of Judy Phillips Design. They try to give the homeowner as much living area as possible and decks are a way to get living space…People move here for the outdoor living and views are a big part of that. We want to take advantage of those views in our outdoor space in particular and we want to make it as comfortable outside as possible.Outdoor furniture has evolved into making the outdoor living space one that is as inviting and comfortable as indoors. The wide variety of color and fashion-forward fabrics for cushions for outdoor furniture is incredible. Its not only colorful but so durable now. It resists moisture and sun damage which is a real challenge in our weather conditions here,” Phillips said. She adds that when it comes to outdoor furnishings, technology keeps improving to make outdoor living more convenient, more practicable, and more beautiful. The quality and design in continually being improved upon. Finishes dont fade and chip…huge outdoor pots are being made of resin or fiberglass product that is very exciting. It ages well and is easily movable. Clay and plastic crack and dont age well. Fire pits are the new latest-and-greatest centerpiece in todays outdoor home design. Hotels are even featuring outdoor fire pits for their guests enjoyment. Some fire pits are built into the earth with surrounding landscape and some are simple stand-alone pieces. There are many different types of fire pits, from a high-tech gas unit with fake logs with an adjustable fire level to a gas starter unit where real logs are added; to a standalone small unit where real logs are piled into a large bowl type pit. There are local regulations governing what is legally acceptable but the fact remains that Valley homeowners are intensely interested in this new addition to their outdoor space.Besides creating a nice ambiance, fire pits can add a playful element to the activities. There are families with children and grandchildren who like an old-fashioned campfire where they can cook hot dogs and marshmallows there is something different and appealing about an open fire that cant be replaced, says Phillips.Sara Turk, designer with Splash Home in Edwards, agrees that the people in the Valley are looking to spend as much time outdoors as possible and finding furnishings that make that time as comfortable as possible is important they dont want to waste one minute. When second-home owners leave in the winter, around March or April, they have already put in their orders for when they return. They want everything ready for them when they come back for the summer season.Durable, sturdy, but beautiful patio and deck furnishings that can withstand the weather are in high demand – 20-year warranties are not unusual with todays materials. The No. 1 seller for bar and table tops is faux stone. With the wind and the dust here this is a composite material that is non-porous and doesnt scratch. Glass tops cant withstand the dust and the elements.Another new trend says Sara is the double chaise longue. This is something that is really big now. It can fit two people, its comfortable, and even has separate back controls. All you have to do is place it in a scenic spot, cover it with an umbrella, and relax and enjoy the view. The design desire of Vail Valley is comfortable, casual, easy living with the home as the central place for after-hours relaxing and entertaining. The outdoor space in the home is a favorite place to be spending the happy days of summer. And were spending more time and more money looking for ways to extend, not only our comfort, but also for ways that extend our opportunity to be outside in that inimitable Vail summer weather.Vail, Colorado

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