Discover how outdoor room trends are transforming homes and redefining the way homeowners enjoy their living spaces.
Story by Ann Butenas | Photos courtesy of Stumpff HomeWorks
In a world that’s becoming increasingly fast-paced and technology-driven, there’s a growing desire to reconnect with nature and create more meaningful connections with our living spaces.
Today’s patio and deck spaces range from inviting lounge areas adorned with stylish furniture to fully equipped outdoor kitchens and dining spaces under the open sky.
We spoke with Tom Stumpff, professional remodeler and owner of Stumpff HomeWorks, who dove into the exciting world of outdoor rooms and the reasons behind this phenomenon’s increasing popularity. Discover how these innovative extensions not only enrich our daily lives but also serve as a bridge between our modern lifestyles and the natural world we cherish.
KCH&S: How do homeowners typically want to incorporate their outdoor rooms with the rest of their home design?
STUMPFF: The idea is to bring the inside out. Some clients will use plants as a way to create that feel and then bring the plants into the basement or garage for the winter. Certain outdoor furniture and fabrics can be used as well to soften an outdoor space and coordinate colors from the inside space to the outdoor space.
KCH&S: How does the desire for low maintenance versus high customization factor into outdoor room design requests?
STUMPFF: Low maintenance typically leads to higher pricing, but it is worth it. If one can increase their budget to allow for long term sustainability the space will be forgiving to the Kansas City seasons. Thus, it is more enjoyable and functional. High customization would also lend itself to the proper design and products for a longer lasting space. If the wrong products are used on a highly customized space, then money was not well spent. The right professional contractor will know what works long term in the Kansas City environment which will always lead to a longer lasting space and happier client.
KCH&S: With more people working from home, have you seen an increase in requests for outdoor rooms designed for work or study?
STUMPFF: This was extremely evident a few years ago with the pandemic, although that thinking has somewhat cooled off a bit in the past year or so. Kansas City has some extreme temperatures – some changing by 30 degrees in one day – so outdoor spaces must be planned accordingly with proper materials which do add quite a bit of costs to a project.
KCH&S: Are homeowners seeking to make their outdoor rooms usable year-round? If so, what kind of features are they asking for to accommodate this?
STUMPFF: We are seeing inquiries for screened-in porches with electric overhead heaters, fireplaces and in some cases retractable screens for an open feel when bugs are not at an all-time pesky high. Plunge pools with a heating option for winter are also becoming more popular with outdoor use.
KCH&S: How are people addressing privacy concerns in their outdoor rooms, especially in densely populated areas?
STUMPFF: You can have wood privacy screens installed with materials that tie into other features in the design. Landscaping is another way to screen off neighbors and cut down on external noises such as traffic and neighborly activities.
KCH&S: How is lighting being approached in modern outdoor rooms?
STUMPFF: Lighting is key into setting a scene in the evening or early morning hours. Smart systems also allow for customizing scenes for the time of day via a programmed schedule or adjusted in real time on a device app. Proper placement, fixture size, lumens, and dimmability are all key into setting the proper scene for any outdoor occasion.
KCH&S: How do you approach the design and construction of an outdoor room for a home with limited outdoor space?
STUMPFF: With any design, proper scale is key to blend a new space in with an existing one. The client may not get all of their “wants” in a smaller space, so specific design details must be called out to ensure the space is not crowded but still checks the boxes of an enjoyable outdoor space.