Susan Godley describes her old backyard space as “unusable.”
The sun beat down on her uncovered patio like something out of Clint Eastwood western.
Now, the Godley’s outdoor space includes a spacious covered porch, outdoor fireplace and gas grill with a griddle cook top.
The Godleys, who live off Weddington Road, are part of a trend. Homeowners are opting to extend their living space outdoors in a big way. They’re not just spiffing up the deck and adding fancier furniture. They’re turning their backyards into outdoor living rooms.
“People are moving more outdoors,” said Eric Kent of Archadeck.
Gary Griffin of Southern Porch & Patio says the boom in outdoor spaces is due in part to the economy.
“People are adapting to the new economy in the way that they need to,” Griffin said. “They’re entertaining more at home than they used to, and in many cases they want to do it outdoors.”
The Godleys, parents of Julia, 16, Lucas, 17, and Jason, 19, asked Archadeck’s Mike Luick to provide them with a more useable outdoor living space.
The family wanted the openness of a genuine back porch, but it needed to be cooler. Susan Godley also wanted to be sure the existing wrought iron fence was used as part of the new design.
“We wanted an open porch, not a screened-in porch,” Susan Godley said, adding, “They were able to use columns and retrofit the wrought iron railing.”
Luick’s design incorporated a slatted roofing that provides shade at different angles as the sun works its way through the day.
“The roof provides shade, but still gives light,” Luick said.
In devising his overall plan, Luick tried to come up with a look that would mimic the main house. By the Godleys’ account, he succeeded.
“It is beautiful,” Susan said. “We absolutely love it.”
The porch is bracketed by trees and flowers that Susan planted, including perennials like salvia and yellow day lilies.
The space creates a place for real estate executive Rodney Godley to gather with family in the evenings. When he comes home and finds no one in the house, he knows just where to look.
Now that the backyard is more comfortable and accessible, the Godleys find that they talk to one another more and watch TV less.
“It’s much more relaxing now than it was before,” said Susan. “We can listen to music and put out some candles. It makes it easier to leave everything behind.”
Rodney Godley agrees. “We can sit around and talk. It extends the living of the house to the outside.”
Many homebuilders are finding a lucrative market in home renovations these days, including patios with fireplaces and/or built-in grills or outdoor kitchens.
Some projects are pricey like the Godleys $50,000 renovation, but others are much less costly. You can do smaller improvements for as little as $1,000.
Griffin, owner of Griffin Homes, says the speculative home building environment is still pretty risky. More people are choosing to stay put. Homeowners are getting older and they’re comfortable in their older neighborhoods, Griffin said.
Griffin’s home improvement subsidiary, Southern Porch & Patio, has jumped on that trend.
While remodeling the old standbys – kitchens and baths – is a sure win for improving the value of your home, Griffin says sunroom additions and screened-in back porches are becoming another mainstay.
“That’s a lot of what I see people doing to make their homes easier to stay in,” Griffin said.
Susan Godley says expanding the use of her backyard improved her quality of life. The family can entertain guests in the main house, but it’s equally comfortable for visitors to wander outside, she said.
“It’s a great way to actually get together and interact with people,” Rodney said.