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Create the Outdoor Living Space of Your Dreams: An Interview with Ryan Hughes of Ryan Hughes Design Build

By Ryan Hughes

Tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

We are a design/build firm specializing in luxurious outdoor living spaces, award-winning swimming pools, innovative fire and water features, and signature landscapes. Our scope encompasses everything outside the walls of the home. From the landscape to hardscape right down to custom outdoor furniture and accessories. Our outdoor environments offer every element for the outdoor lifestyle.

Since you specialize in very high-end projects, can you share any tips for creating an outdoor living space with that luxurious or resort-like feel?

First, the space must be functional. Just like the inside of the home has different rooms with specific purposes, so should the outside. There should be a space for an outdoor kitchen that is not only for cooking alfresco, but also serves as the centerpoint for outdoor entertaining. There should be a formal living space with comfortable seating for relaxed conversation. This can be under a covered lanai or many times under a custom pergola or trellis. There should be a casual seating space for a more upbeat tempo. This can be around the glow of a fire pit or possibly near the sound of a water feature. Either of which will liven the personality of the space. Then depending on the client's lifestyle there may be outdoor lounge areas for sunbathing, taking a nap in a day bed or even possibly an outdoor sauna/steam room.

The second aspect to creating the resort-like feel is the harmony of elements. By this I mean the right blend of colors textures and architectural features brought together to invoke a sense of tranquility, relaxation or in some cases fun. We call this "artistry of space."

What are some of the most popular outdoor features that your clients in Florida are having installed?

Fire has certainly been the "hot" item the past several years. Many clients are pleasantly surprised at, not just the ambiance that fire creates, but more by the functional aspect. Fire has a way of captivating homeowners and guests, and creating perfect atmosphere for social gatherings.

What would you recommend as the first step for someone who wants to redesign their yard to create an outdoor living space?

Hire a professional designer. There are many contractors that advertise they offer design services. But in most cases they do not have a landscape architect or professionally trained designer on staff. Most failures with outdoor living projects are not due to hiring the wrong contractor as much as they were never professionally designed in the first place. Homeowners should be wary of anyone who offers free design. Any qualified designer or architect is going to charge for their services. Always ask to see the resume of the design professionals you interview.

Can you briefly describe what you do during the design process?

Our design process begins with an initial consultation to understand and review your style and vision for your outdoor living space. We also work with you to understand how you plan to use the space and the desired feel you would like to achieve. Once these factors are identified, we examine your home's existing architecture to ensure continuity and flow to your new outdoor living space. Taking into consideration the locations of views, site conditions and accessibility, we design your outdoor living space to flow from inside your home out. Upon completion of the consultation, our design team and graphic artists will translate the vision into conceptual drawings and renderings. A visual presentation will also be prepared to convey the look and feel of the proposed project.

What are some important considerations for homeowners when they're in the design phase for their outdoor living space?

For the functional aspect they should consider what the primary use of the space will be. Entertaining, relaxing or just family fun. Then they should consider the style and personality they would like the space to have. In some cases the style from the inside of the home should flow to the outdoors, but it is also a nice departure if the outside takes on a more unique feel. We usually ask our clients to tell us regions of the world they have traveled and which areas make they enjoy the most. We will then use influences from those regions to give them their personal resort-like feel.

To contact Ryan and/or find out more about his company, please visit their services directory profile.

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