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Planning Your Outdoor Living Space

Posted by Molly Gilbert on February 27, 2017
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Knoxville’s Temperate Climate

The weather might still be a bit cold yet, but now’s the time to start planning your outdoor living space weekend warrior project. With relatively mild temperatures during most of the year, Knoxville, Tennessee is the perfect city for extending the living spaces of your home into the outdoors. From April through October, residents can enjoy a comfortable and useful space beyond the walls of their houses. With the addition of readily available outdoor heaters or fire pits, outdoor living can be extended into March and November as well.

Don’t wait until the weather turns nice to begin your project. Plan now, so that when the first pleasant weekend rolls around, you’ll know just what to do to increase the value of your home by extending the livable space.


Before you begin any project planning in earnest, you should define the purpose of your space. How will it be used? Will it be an intimate sitting area, or will larger groups gather there? Will the space be quiet and still, or will it see a lot of boisterous activity? Will the whole family gather to cook and eat? Do you want an outdoor spot for indoor activities like games? Will you use it for art, crafts, or other projects?

The answers to these questions should drive the rest of your decisions.


Where would you like your new outdoor space to be? Close to the house, or further into the yard? Pay attention to how the outdoor space will be affected by weather. Go to the space at different times of the day to see where the sun hits. View the rest of the property from your planned spot. Situate the space with a pleasing view of the other outdoor areas. Consider also the view of your neighbors’ properties (and theirs of yours, too).


Planning a project in your head can be difficult. Sizes and proportions are best seen in real life. Line out the footprint of your outdoor space to determine if it’s the size you were intending. Slight changes to square footage can make a big difference in supplies.

Check It from the Inside Out

You can get so focused on the outdoor space that you might forget about its impact on your indoor areas. Go through your house, looking out of doors and windows to the spot of your planned space. How will a new structure affect views? What about shade? What about room privacy?

You want your outdoor space to extend your existing living area as naturally and organically as possible. Avoid constructing a space that detracts from your indoor rooms.


Try to know exactly what materials you’re going to need before you start. Then plan for a good bit extra. Better to have too much than not enough. Sure, you’re going to make several trips to the hardware store during your project, but your trips will be fewer and more efficient if you’ve made a detailed and accurate list ahead of time.

With a supply list at the ready, you’ll be able to get started when the first perfect weekend surprises you. If you wait until the day arrives, you’ll spend half of your weekend in the planning stages and you won’t get any actual work completed.

Plan It on Paper

Building a paper mock-up of your ideas will give you the opportunity to make adjustments and changes with no consequences. A change on paper is easy to fix. Once your lumber is cut, not so much.


Don’t forget to blend your outdoor living space with the existing yard space. Your new outdoor kitchen might be the best on the block for grilling steaks, but it won’t feel quite right if it isn’t integrated into the outdoors. A few well-placed plants can make all the difference in making your new space feel like home. Head over to a gardening center to get some advice about suitable plants and how to get them in the ground (or containers).

Break It into Stages

Of course you want to knock out the project in a single weekend. You’re ready to start living in your new outdoor space, right? You’ll probably need to break bigger projects up into several weekends, especially if you’re going to be using material that requires time to set.

As you make your plans, create some logical breaks in the work scheme. Work toward those breaks, then save another chunk of work for another weekend.

Get Help from Your Buddies

With a little help from your friends, the work will go a lot more quickly. Some jobs just can’t be done by an individual; you’ll need a second set of hands for lots of tasks. You’ll all be able to enjoy the new space together once you’ve completed it.

Know the Codes, Rules, and Regulations

Before you anything else on this list, know what is allowable. Many neighborhoods restrict what can be built, how it is constructed, and where it can go. Check with your homeowner’s association as you’re planning.

City and/or county codes might also apply. This link might be helpful if you’re planning a project in Knoxville.

Enjoy Life

With a little elbow grease and some dedicated time, you can build an outdoor living space that will make you love your home even more. Get outside and enjoy life!