Over the years we have worked with a few clients that wanted to create larger living spaces but didn’t have the land or the budget to build a new 5,000+ square foot custom log home. With that being said, there are ways to maximize space and create the home you want with the space you currently have. We recommend that homeowners consider building a home to the maximum size that they could and then add outdoor living areas to create additional living space. Think of it as your very own oasis for relaxing and entertaining friends and family.

Even if you don’t live in a warmer climate area like California, your outdoor living areas can be designed to complement the weather that your home is up against, whether that’s with fireplaces, overhangs, and heaters. These last few springs and falls we have been building a variety of outdoor living spaces so here are some ideas if you want to look at enhancing your outdoor living space:

Outdoor Kitchen and BBQ Area

Outdoor kitchens and BBQ areas are fast becoming the extension of the interior of the home. Creating a large cooking area outside can free up a lot of space in your home or even give your kitchen that extra extension you’ve always been wanting.

Depending on the space and validity of your backyard space is going to depend on how extravagant you can make your outdoor living space. If you have a smaller area think of getting some moveable such as a central cookout and a rolling cart that has all the goods on it, so wherever it goes you’ve got everything you need. If you have space then built-ins are your way to go. Enjoy the flavours of home all year long!

Outdoor Living Area

A simple and cost-effective way to gain more space is to build a large deck or an overhang area in your backyard. Make note though, if you’re planning to use your deck or patio area for multiple avenues (entertaining, BBQ’s, movie nights, etc.) you’re going to need to carefully plan the correct size and layout of how everything is going to look and fall into place.

The first step is to determine your needs. Make a ‘wish list’ of all the ways you’re going to use your outdoor living area. Include all the things you want; a reading area, somewhere to lounge, a place to eat, a double-sided fireplace, seating, etc. Then from here, you can start visualizing and narrowing down what is going where and the size of it all.

At the end of the day just make sure your outdoor living space is functional and unique to you and what you’re wanting. You want something that is functional and sustainable that your family can use and enjoy for many years to come.

Living Roofs

A ‘living roof’ also known as a ‘green roof’ is literally just that – a green roof full of plants, grasses and in some cases, garden vegitables. In fact, one of the recent projects we completed was the installation of two living roofs. This not only added living space but also helped with insulation and control the water runoff from the home. There are some design elements that need to be taken into consideration when building a living roof. Water pooling can eventually cause rot and water damage, but done right a living roof can be a great way to increase livable space.

There are three different kinds of living roofs you need to take into consideration when wanting this particular design for your home.

  • Intensive Green Roof – which is one where you’re wanting to have large plants, lawn, schrubs, and even trees. You’ll need to make sure you have good access and frequent access if you like this type of roof with requiring frequent maintenance. Add a nice walkway and some seating areas to give yourself that little bit of nature right at your own fingertips.
  • Extensive Green Roof – this is for a more low maintenance person who is making looking for a little hobby while having something beautiful to admire at the end of a long day or as they watch the sunset go down. This type of roof style is great for vegetation, succulents and self-sustaining plants.
  • Semi-intensive/hybrid – this type of green roof combines both extensive and intensive roof designs hence the name ‘hybrid’. Irrigation is only needed time-to-time with this roof design plants such as shrubs, herbs and certain perennials do well. So for those also looking for something more low maintenance this is a great option.


Gazebos are a great way to allow you to use your outdoor space almost year round. That’s not to say weather can’t and won’t be a factor, but the way a gazebo is designed and the area around it, you can make it personalized to your own lifestyle. Depending on your land restrictions and your lifestyle, building outdoor livable space directly onto your home may not be feasible.

A gazebo can be a great design if you have waterfront property and want a space closer to the water and to have a focal piece in your yard. It creates a nice area for shade, you can build a small firepit next to it and you’ve got a pretty nice little backyard set up. Toast smores in the summer or curl up during the winter months fireside along with a nice hot cup of cocoa.

Regardless of your budget or lot size, we can help you design a space that fits with your lifestyle. Are you needing some design inspiration or looking to expand your outdoor living area for this summer? Contact us and we can help you plan and design an outdoor living space for you.