Cabana with Austin, TX cityview by Jay Corder Architect

Outdoor Living Spaces

As the July 4th holiday approaches we think about the birth of America’s Independence and celebrate with fireworks, parades, and the ultimate outdoor barbecue. It’s a time for family gatherings and a time for Austinites to embrace the beautiful environment that Austin has to offer.  The outdoor living space is a perfect place to celebrate.


Austin Lifestyle

Over the years, Jay Corder Architect has placed a high value on outdoor living spaces. We have found that Austinites want a space to be completely immersive and cohesive with the Austin lifestyle. They want these outdoor living spaces to be durable, practical, and functional. It needs to be versatile enough to adapt from cooking to fun to just plain relaxation. In Austin, with the influx of “California Transplants,” we are also seeing the desire for maximized outdoor living spaces with expansive backyards.  

While challenges do exist in Texas, such as high temperatures and biting insects, outdoor living spaces can still be enjoyed year-round,  even on the hottest days including July 4th. A thoughtful plan and design will take these challenges and your needs into consideration. A good design is considerate of the site. It should connect with nature and take advantage of natural daylight and predominant breezes. 


The Design

The outdoor living space usually places an emphasis on entertainment. The use of functional and flexible furniture allows versatility for small intimate gatherings where the conversation is key or larger groups that need space for traffic flow.  

Adjacent planting and landscaping will enhance this so remember it’s important to find balance.  Too much hardscaping will ruin the mood and negatively alter the scale very easily. Using fire as an anchoring element is always a good bet and it can be done in numerous ways depending on your personal taste.


The Mood

Last, think about how your space will set the mood.  Appropriate technology like ambient music, television, and shade devices should all be considered. Great lighting-whether it’s a unique decorative fixture or even candlelight is a must.  And last but not least, do not be afraid to bring colors outside. If you are ready to create or redo your outdoor living space we’d love to help.

According to the latest report by National Kitchen Bathroom Associates here's a smattering of what homeowners want in outdoor living spaces


      • Bottom Line: Typical spend is about $13,000 on an outdoor kitchen, but about 22% of homeowners are building very high-end kitchens ($30,000+) and 14% spend between $20,000 and $30,000.


      • Size Matters: Most outdoor kitchens (66%) are between 100 and 400 square feet, including a sitting area in the meal preparation space.  22% are more than 400 square feet, and just 12% are under 100 square feet.


      • Finishing Touches: Stainless steel is the grill hood finish of choice for 77% of homeowners. 75% have additional burners, 57% have warming racks, and 50% have a rotisserie.


      • Look Up: About half of homeowners install some fixed overhead structure (52%); 30% install a pergola, and 13% have an adjustable/retractable structure; 12% have no overhead structure.


      • Creature Comforts: 62% of outdoor kitchens have a TV; 62% have built-in storage or cabinets; 58% boast a fire pit; 26% feature a wine refrigerator; 25% install an icemaker. 


      • Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Natural stone is the choice of 57% of homeowners for outdoor countertops, followed by quartz at 23%.


      • I wish I’d spent more money on…” Shelter/shade enclosure, 12%; a bigger space, 10%; counter, 9%; atmosphere/temperature/lighting control, 7%; cabinets/storage, 5%.


Our friends over at BBQGuys have a great article to help you start thinking about the plan.

Take a look at some of the great outdoor living spaces designed by Jay.