Monday, July 03, 2006

July 4th Special: Add on a Room to Your House for Free

Given that work-a-day Monday, between the weekend and the Tuesday 4th of July holiday is something of a disconnected island, this post seems a perfect secret to share : add on a room to your house for free and enjoy it all summer, or longer.

Outdoor rooms provide private sanctuaries that let you enjoy the wonderful sights, sounds and scents of summer; an outdoor room will remove you from the chore reminders of the main house. To create an outdoor room, and actually expand the size of your living quarters, plan a room that can be functional both day and night. If you live in a warm climate, design your room to span several seasons. Don't buy a new patio set, lounge chairs or plastic rattan. Go down to the basement or up to the attic and you'll find the treasures to haul out and set up the space. You'll have more fun and love your outdoor room even more---More ideas about this later.

We have two outdoor rooms. One is the second floor deck that runs the western length of the house. A collapsible awning runs half the width of the deck. We haul out chairs, tables, bookcases and fill it with pots of flowers, vegetables and herbs. Candle lanterns hang from the rafters and iron lanterns dot the flooring. The view of the butte to the south is breath-taking. The trees provide shade, wonderful patterns of filtered light and the various birds that flitter down to the feeder or the bird bath.

Take a look at your space. Do you have a balcony, a front stoop, a private side yard? Any small space can be privatized. Fabrics are key: drape fabric (a clean sheet will do) over a bamboo or closet rod and create vertical space. Drag out an old rug and let it define the floor space. Bring out a few chairs, a table and some candles. Do you have a tabletop fountain? Add it to the room.

Several years ago, in another home, I bought two outdoor umbrella bases on sale. I looped colorful sari fabric over the horizontal rod, and placed two rods upright in each base. I then secured the horizontal rod by tying if off with twine. I used this outdoor "screen" and a tall pot of bamboo to block the neighbors view into my outdoor room. The wind rippling in the fabric was lush and satisfying. Bamboo is an excellent screening device as well.

Enjoy summer while it's here, and celebrate the 4th in your own outdoor room.

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