Whether you love it or hate it, there's no getting away from the fact that Chicago experiences all four seasons – sometimes we even get to experience all four seasons in one day! When we think of spending time in our backyard outdoor spaces, we often conjure up images of those picture-perfect, clear, warm summer days, but as anyone who lives here knows, we have many other types of days around here and they're not all picture-perfect. If you only spent time in the yard on absolutely perfect days, you'd spend very little time outside.

Fortunately, we can improvise and improve our outdoor spaces to make them more useful regardless of the weather. In this post, we will share 7 elements that can enhance outdoor spaces in Chicagoland. Many of them can be used together in the same yard and, in fact, chances are good you already have at least one of the items on our list!

7 Outdoor Space Ideas For Chicagoland Yards

If you have a yard, you'll want to make the most of it and that often means adding some structures to the area. Very few people are enticed to spend time in a plain ol' patch of green grass. They want seating areas, a place to grill out, trees, plants, and flowers to look at, and a spot to unwind after a long week at the office. Any one of the following ideas can get you out and enjoying your backyard (or front yard or side yard!) more. 1. Porches

Porches are defined as covered shelters that protect the entrance to the house or building. They usually have a couple of steps leading up to the house and can be added to the front, back, or side of the house, but one element it must have to be considered a porch is access to the inside of the home. Porches are usually open-sided, but may have columns supporting the roof and lighting to enhance visibility in the area. Porches can be large or small, screened-in or open-sided to meet the homeowner's needs. You might hear them referred to as verandas or porticos in other parts of the country. A porch is a perfect place to set up a cozy seating area and the most classic of all porch images is of rocking chair or ceiling-mounted swing on a large front porch.

2. Patios

Patios are different from porches in that they are flat, ground level hardscapes. They are usually open-sided and uncovered, though that of course is up to the homeowner! Patios are most often made of concrete, paving stones, brick or other types of masonry, since they sit directly on the ground and do not have railings. They might be located underneath a second-story deck or they might be used to fill in the area between the house and a detached garage to provide a safe and dry walkway. Patios are usually located adjacent to the home or near an entry point to provide a transition from the home to the yard or other structure like a pool, shed, or play area.

3. Decks

Decks are open outdoor platforms that extend out from the house but do not sit directly on the ground. Decks are constructed of wood or newer, more durable composite materials and come in all shapes and sizes from simple platforms just a few inches off the ground to complex, multi-level outdoor spaces. Decks have open sides. They don't usually have roofs, but they may have arbors or pergolas or awnings to provide a bit of shade. Decks do have railings and steps and may even have built-in seating.

4. Gazebos

Gazebos are free-standing, roofed structures that are usually located away from the home, but they can be added to a deck or located atop a patio. They may be open-sided or screened-in and are commonly used in parks to serve as bandstands or rain shelters. In the home landscape they provide protection from the weather, but they are not heated or cooled except naturally.

5. Outdoor Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens are increasingly popular with Chicagoland homeowners. These specialty outdoor spaces allow homeowners to prepare meals and dine outside in comfort. They may be designed like a patio or a deck, but they usually have a roof of some sort to protect equipment and food prep areas from the weather. Some outdoor kitchens are as simple as a grill and a dining area on a patio. Others are full kitchens, complete with sinks, refrigerators, and ovens set into custom-constructed masonry work. One element they all have in common is a place to prepare food and eat it outside. Other than that, the sky is the limit in an outdoor kitchen!

6. Outdoor Living Rooms

Another popular home improvement these days is the outdoor living room. These hardscaped areas include seating, lighting, usually a fireplace or fire pit, and sometimes even televisions. The idea is similar to the outdoor kitchen; it's a fully functional living room located outdoors! Hardscaping plays a major role in these areas since patios are often used to create an even foundation and secure the fireplace.

7. 3- and 4-Season Rooms.

The ultimate in the indoor/outdoor experience are 3- and 4-season rooms. These rooms are fully enclosed structures that are added on to a home. They look similar with large windows on three sides and a roof, but as the names imply one of them can be used year-round and the other can't. A 3-season room is less well-insulated than a 4-season room and has aluminum framing. It's intended for use in spring, summer, and fall only. A 4-season room on the other hand, can be used year round because it has energy-efficient windows and thermally-engineered framing as well as a heating and cooling system. Homeowners love 3-and 4-season rooms because they can enjoy the outdoors in any weather and at almost any time of year.

Discover Your Best Outdoor Space At Erdmann Exteriors

There are so many ways Chicagoland homeowners can make the most of their outdoor spaces. Choosing which type of structure to add to your home really depends on the space you have and how you want to spend your time outside. At Erdmann Exteriors & Construction, we help homeowners transform outdoor spaces into their favorite parts of the home! Contact us to arrange a free on-site consultation to discuss the possibilities for your yard! Call 847-357-9607 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.