Written by Darleen Principe

“Stepping out” has taken on a whole new meaning. Today’s designs make indoor-outdoor living a seamless experience with kitchens, dining areas, living rooms and media centers all going al fresco. Below, a hand-built drain masquerades as a decorative patio border.

scotts-advert-beyond-mdc-078With the SoCal sunshine warming the ground and the cool Pacific breezes drifting into our valleys most days of the year, it’s no wonder that more of us are taking life outside.
The outdoor living trend has grown quickly over the last decade. Now a $49-billion industry in the United States, outdoor living means much more than planting a well-manicured backyard and buying outdoor furniture.
It’s about comfort and leisure, where relaxation meets play. It’s the thoughtful blending of home and adventure.
For as little as $10,000, the average local backyard can be transformed into an exhilarating, open-air extension of healthy and happy living space, says Scott Linskey, licensed general contractor and owner of Malibu Coast Landscaping.
As long as you’re willing to reach beyond your usual comfort zone, there’s really no limit to where your creative potential can take you.
“An outdoor living space is an extension of your home,” Linskey says. “We’re in California for a reason. We’re so blessed to be here, where we have 300 perfect days out of the year. Why not find a way to enjoy it?”

Scott Linskey and Lucky

Scott Linskey and Lucky

The first step in creating your own outdoor living space is to literally change the way you go outside, according to Linskey.
Most outdoor living transformations begin with tearing down the small glass sliders or single-knob doors leading to the backyard and replacing them with much larger exits—like open arches or wall-length folding patio doors.
You may choose to design a desert oasis, or perhaps a lush environment for entertaining family and guests. Built-in barbecues and wood-burning pizza ovens help bring your culinary escapades to an outdoor custom kitchen.
Go even further: open up your family room to the swimming pool with some elegant stonework.
With the swipe of a curtain over a pair of floor-to-ceiling French doors, even master bedrooms can extend into the great outdoors.
Creating an outdoor living area not only gives you a new way to enjoy your home, it can also bring added property value, especially if the work includes a heating or plumbing system, Linskey says.
Antique-brick fire pits, stacked-stone pillars, outdoor surround-sound and charming landscapes—the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.