With the economy being what it is, more families are staying home and spending more quality time with each other than ever before. Since the thought of buying a new home is simply out of the question for many families, the next best thing is to reconsider what you already have.

Taking full advantage of the unused space in your backyard is a more affordable way of adding existing usable square footage to your home.

Spring has come a bit early this year, so let’s take advantage of Mother Nature’s generosity. Here are a few ways of sprucing up your backyard and making it an extension of your existing home.

Plan Your Vision

Sit down and draw up a plan for your backyard. What events will take place there? Do you want an area for the kids to play? Would you like to entertain? Do you have or want a pool? What about a section for your grill?

Once you have your vision sketched out you should make a list of furniture to repurpose. An old chair can be repainted; a tire can be used as a swing for the kids’ playground and other items you already own can be reinvented.

Seating

Creating a living room outside emulates the warm feeling of home. Guests will feel comfortable and it saves us from the chaos of standing bodies. If budget allows, browse the internet. Frontgate.com offers a large selection of unbelievably great-looking outdoor furniture. Some items to consider if your budget is smaller include picnic tables, chairs and sofas. Picnic tables have a rustic and family feel and are great space savers; one table alone can sit 4 to 6 people. Sofas and pillows (made of all weather material) give a homey feel to the outdoors. It’s like you never left your living room!

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Creating an Outdoor Kitchen

Cooking outside doesn’t have to feel like work. The outdoor kitchen is all about lifestyle. It’s about experiencing both comfort and design in a natural setting. Modern technology and its ever-growing variety of fixtures have made it easy to create a handy cooking space. The days of running in and out of the house to get forgotten condiments are over. When buying appliances, do your research, don’t just take your neighbors word for it, ask him/her to let you touch or even cook on their grill. My favorite resource for choosing outdoor appliances is Consumer Reports.

Add Color

The color of your outdoor furniture and fabrics should coexist with nature. Limes, greens, oranges and yellows are a great place to start. Hanging lights are also a fun way to lighten up your backyard, especially when parties extend afterhours. Also, don’t forget to buy containers of flowers. A pop of rose, red or purple can really brighten up the outdoors. Purchase flowers that thrive for years in a single container. Some that come to mind are perennials like hibiscus and hydrangeas.

Extra Items

Cushions can be added on top of the seating. A bench is also a great little add-on that spruces up decor. You can buy a storage bench to store your kid’s outdoor toys or your dirty boots when it is muddy. Lastly, if you want to be extra handy, add a path from your backyard to the indoors.

Quick Tips to Remember to Create A Great Backyard

  • For safety reasons a grill should be 12-24 inches away from the siding of your home. You don’t want to start a fire!
  • Create a party pantry in your outdoor kitchen to store plates, cups and utensils for your fiestas.
  • Purchase well-made and colorful outdoor umbrellas to block the sun.
  • Create an instant outdoor garden using containers. No digging required!
  • A fountain adds an extra touch and a relaxing ambiance.

So, let your imagination run wild. Create a backyard oasis like no one else and enjoy your home.

If you take your backyard and create a fun and active space, you may never want to leave.

Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page

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Marlene Pratt is the co-founder of Casa Latina, an interior designer and on-air television host on both English and Spanish-language television. Follow Marlene on Twitter at @CasaLatinaToday and Like her FB page

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino