An outdoor living space is now considered a viable part of the home’s living space. A backyard patio is an area to be enjoyed with family and friends. Creating an outdoor living space is a great means of adding value to your home. Take your pick of any of the HGTV home remodeling/flipping shows; the patio areas are almost always upgraded to kick up the desirability of the home.

In the old days, a patio mostly consisted of a small grill and maybe some lawn chairs and outside table. Nowadays folks are reevaluating this concept and making outdoor living space that is both functional and blast to use. Everything from full outdoor fireplaces (wood burning or gas), built-in grills, and enough outdoor furniture to entertain or relax, plus full bars and throw in a flat-screen TV and some surround sound outdoor speakers and your possibilities are endless. Here are three of the must-have items you definitely will want to include in your home’s outdoor living space.

1. A Built-in Grill.

Barbecuing is serious business around these parts, and a built-in grill is really the only way to go. Similar to an outdoor fireplace, the framework of a built-in grill is concrete block. The block is then covered with natural stone veneer. Because of the sturdiness, the materials used a concrete slab poured underneath is recommended to prevent sag or shifting. Once you have determined the location of the grill, the next step is running the gas line to the grill. It’s best to run the gas line out to the grill location first, burying it underground if possible. You’ll want to install a gas line to avoid running out of propane during a big cookout and the hassle of changing the tanks.

2. Outdoor Fireplace.

 The same way a fireplace is the focal point of an indoor living space, It may be even more so outside (and you may also use it more than the one in your home). What better way to enjoy beautiful nights than by watching the flames flicker and listening to the musical crackle of a fire? It’s of the utmost importance to have a quality and solid foundation. Outdoor fireplaces need to be built properly and constructed to handle the high heat of a roaring fire and to also draft properly. The fireplace itself is usually made of heat-resistant block and then usually has a cover of natural stone veneer. Once again a reinforced concrete slab poured underneath is highly recommended.

3. A High Top Counter or Bar.

A sensational outdoor living area warrants entertaining or at the very least having a cold beer or enjoying a glass of wine with the brisket you just grilled. Just like many of the cocktail dinner parties have you’ve been to, many of them end up outside on the patio. And since a bar has no heat from a fire, it can be installed with concrete block or even just a wooden stud frame. Natural stone veneer looks fabulous to cover the block or wood sheathing.

When you’ve got the look working what about the floor of your outdoor paradise. Dirt or grass, no way—wood or faux wood? Even worse. You should consider natural stone. I love natural stone as it provides a seamless, perfectly coordinated transition from the fireplace, grill, and bar. Since this is your particular “high end” outdoor living space, you want it to be unique, natural and great looking.

A stone product like flagstone pavers can complete the look you’re after. These are cut and designed for the exact purpose of giving your area a natural stone “high end” finished look. Similar to natural stone veneer, they have a sawn back which allows for easy installation. They are all two inches thick with a natural top that will not become slippery when wet. The flagstones are installed on a bed of fine compacted gravel with sand in the joints.

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