In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy discovers there’s no place like her Kansas home on the prairie. If the movie were made today, those yellow bricks might lead her straight to an outdoor kitchen or living room attached to the farmhouse.

A recent survey in Realtor magazine found that the trend to create upscale outdoor rooms continues increase as more Americans are bringing aspects of the indoors — audio systems, cooking areas, upsacale decor, and even full fireplaces — outdoors.

And although plenty of us are still cooking with a simple gas or charcoal grills, interest in elaborate outdoor kitchens continues to grow with some newer outdoor rooms featuring fully furnished cooking stations with hybrid grills that allow users to cook with a choice of gas, wood or charcoal.

The Outdoor Rooms Trend

Outdoor living areas also came in strong on another survey by Hardscaping firm EP Henry, which ranked outdoor living rooms #1 and outdoor kitchens at the #3 spot. In that same survey, many also mentioned the growing popularity of adding a roof structure over a patio area, turning it into a porch.

The growing popularity of the outdoor room was also cited by the American Society of Landscape Architects, which determined that outdoor living spaces (defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces) were mentioned by an overwhelming 95% of those responding to its survey.

“In this uncertain economy, homeowners want to get more enjoyment out of their yards,” said ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA. She adds,  “They want attractive outdoor spaces that are both easy to take care of and sustainable.”

We totally agree! But we don’t think you have to add something as elaborate as some of the rooms below although they are fun to look at. We love simple front porches and smaller outdoor living spaces (For the purpose of this article, an outdoor living space is one with a roof that is attached to the house). Here are some of our favorites.

Front Porches

It used to be that every home had a front porch to catch the breeze and neighborhood gossip. After seeing these examples, we’re hoping that they make a widespread comeback!

Here, a porch swing and small bistro set make visitors feel welcome.

Couldn’t you just curl up with a good book and sink back into the pillows with a glass of iced tea while listening to the rain fall?

The blue and white decor on this front porch reflects the surrounding water, making it a dry oasis of peace.

Outdoor Rooms: Porches - Sea Front Porch - San Diego

Sea Front Porch by Flagg Coastal Homes

I love the rustic feel of the floor and beams over and under this Georgian front porch. Plus the wicker patio chairs add to the laid-back attitude.

Front Porch by Dresser Homes


Small Outdoor Rooms

Of course, “small” is a relative term. Yet these rooms are more spacious than front porches and are not as expansive as the Elaborate Outdoor Rooms in the next section.

Though compact, this outdoor room has all the modern “indoor” amenities, like a full kitchen!

Outdoor Rooms: Porch - Outdoor Kitchen - San Francisco

San Francisco Outdoor Kitchen by Conrado Home Builders

Why not turn an old shed into a library?

Outdoor Rooms: Shed - Outdoor Library Shed - London

London Library Shed by Office Sian Architecture & Design

I couldn’t resist including this outdoor room even though it looks like the roof is actually part of a pergola. I’d like to spend a lot of time here!

Outdoor Rooms: Pergola Patio - Outdoor Room - Pergola - Monterey, CA

Monterey, CA Outdoor Room by Robert Shuler Design


Elaborate Outdoor Rooms

As you’ll see, these outdoor rooms are as big as many people’s living rooms and offer top-notch amenities. For example, except for the last one, which is from Japan, all have a fireplace, which ensures people can use them in cooler months. While not for every budget, they’re fun to look at!

This first one has it all.

Outdoor Rooms: Patio - Outdoor Cabin - Atlanta

Atlanta Outdoor Cabin by Kemp Hall Studio

The design here (from a home in Australia) is more contemporary, with sleek lines and less color.

Outdoor Rooms: Pavilion - Outdoor Pavilion - Australia

Australian Outdoor Pavilion by Michelle Walker architects

This last room has a mix of stone and wood that reflects the landscape of Oregon.

What kinds of outdoor living spaces do you like? Are you building one of your own? Comment below and let us know.

And if you like the rooms above, check out our story on Global Decor — amazing outdoor spaces inspired by Europe, Africa, Asia, and Mexico.

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