Creating A Modular Outdoor Living Area

For those ready to foray into the world of outdoor living, the experts at Belgard and Harmony offer the following advice when it comes to creating a modular outdoor living space.

Consultation is Key

Colors and design elements should complement both the architecture of the home and the lifestyle of the homeowner.  It’s important that the contractor know how the homeowner envisions using the space. Form should create function, not impede it.  Get to know your contractor so that your outdoor refuge reflects your personality.

Know Your Codes

Nothing is more frustrating than a design that cannot be implemented due to setback restrictions or a compromised foundation. Design elements like a kitchen bar or a fireplace often require additional foundation work, such as a thicker layer of gravel, or cement pads or footings. Knowing these details before you begin your design will save you a lot of time, headaches, and ultimately, money.

Choose Wisely

Choose a reputable product line that offers a variety of styles and options. Check to see if there is a local supplier with a showroom or spec sites.  A design may look good on paper but have a different feel in full-scale. Be sure to get full disclosure on all product warranties.

Get Creative

Just because you’re designing with modular units doesn’t mean each project needs to be a cookie cutter of the next. Don’t be afraid to vary your designs with texture, color, and dimension.  Mix complimentary elements, hues, curves and lines that work in harmony with the home’s environment.  Create focal points and use paver variations and design elements to create lines that lead to them. Consider using retaining walls or seat walls to define different areas and provide additional seating.  Remember to consider what the purpose and future usage of each space will be and to leave adequate room for walking, gathering, and furniture.

Phasing it Out

If you don’t have the budget to create your dream now, discuss the option of building the project in phases. If planned correctly, you can add an element at a time until the dream is complete. Once the site is excavated and leveled, have your contractor run lines for future plumbing and electrical. Most modular units are designed so that these elements can be added after the fact, but preplanned buried lines are much more aesthetically pleasing. And if you know ahead of time where the heavier elements will be, you can properly prepare the foundation to prevent sag.

Sample Design Project


A fire table with an elevated bar was placed adjacent to the dining area to provide an element of interest and additional seating. The table includes a beaded glass top, built-in natural gas burner, and wood box. In the background, the fireplace wall continues to define the perimeter of the space and is capped with a pillar unit with additional lighting.

Opposite the fireplace and flanking the rear of the home is a fire pit living area designed to create a separate cozy conversation area, yet still coordinate with the colors and textures of the other units and the exterior of the home.

The only element constructed on site can be the patio with buried plumbing and electrical lines. All other elements can be prefabricated in a factory setting, shipped on palettes, and placed on site using a Bobcat. Within hours, a patio can be transformed into a designer living space using modular units.

For more inspiration on building your backyard paradise, visit our Outdoor Living Gallery!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *