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I’m not sure why, but I’ve been thinking a lot about outdoor living spaces lately. It’s probably because the days are getting longer, so when I’m done with work, there’s actually still some time to enjoy the warmer weather. The other day, when I got home, it was still light outside, so I grabbed a book, made a cup of tea, and read for about an hour and a half before the sun finally went down.

It was so refreshing to sit in the cool air, and just decompress. I’ve found through the years that being more in touch with nature is one of the ways I find the most clarity and release from the world around me. My moments in the backyard got me thinking about how I would create my own space of refuge someday in my dream backyard.

I’d love to have a versatile space that somehow works for entertaining a big group, because I need to work on being a bit more social. But I need a space that is also cozy and quiet enough for my more introverted, reflective moments. I don’t have it all laid out just yet, but there are a few features I’ve got in mind.

Outdoor Fireplace

To be completely honest, the jury’s still out on whether I’d rather have an outdoor fireplace or a fire pit, but I think I’m leaning more towards a fireplace at the moment. I feel like a fire pit is more appropriate for a big group, and I’ve always enjoyed just sitting by a fire and chatting with one or two really close friends. Plus, fireplaces have always struck me as something that usually belong inside, and the idea of running counter to that is kind of appealing to my contrary side!

Rock Fountain

I love rustic fountains made of natural stones—the ones that are arranged to look like the water is coming out of a natural spring. I want one of them set up close to the fireplace. The sound of the water would be great background noise as I relax.

Swimming Pool

The other option to having a rock fountain is to have a swimming pool with a waterfall attached. I really like the ones that have an artificial grotto on one end with a waterfall coming down over the mouth of the area.

Swimming pools are wonderful. I love the weightless feeling of floating on my back, and the silence that comes with having my ears submerged. A swimming pool is also the perfect centerpiece for a summer party. It provides entertainment, and it can be a beautiful addition to the backyard. I haven’t fully laid out the pool yet, because I think it would really need to match the backyard’s natural flow. I know I’d want a concrete pool, though. When I was a kid, I happened to be very curious and may or may not have poked a hole in the side of a friend’s vinyl pool. It ended up being an expensive repair, and I was traumatized by the experience so much that vinyl’s just not an option for me!

When I’m browsing for pools, I like to check out the work of pool builders in Las Vegas. There are so many amazing pools in Las Vegas and they are a great source of inspiration. I don’t need anything huge or flashy like you would find on the strip, but because pools are so popular there, there’s a wide variety to look to get ideas for small embellishments.

Outdoor Kitchen

When I was in college, a friend of mine invited a group of us to his home for dinner one weekend. In their backyard, right next to the pool, they had not just a grill, but an entire outdoor kitchen! The idea was completely new to me, and it really made an impression. I kept dreaming of being able to cook full meals outside for my party guests, without needing to trek back and forth to the house, and it just appeals to me. It even included a mini-fridge under the counter where they kept cold soft drinks. It’s a bit over the top, but I love cooking, and I love being outside. Ever since then, any time I think of what I want when I design my dream yard, an outdoor kitchen like that one is a big part of it.

So that’s my dream backyard. I still haven’t worked out all of the details yet, but I expect I still have time before I’m ever able to make this dream a reality. It strikes a nice balance between my introverted needs and my desires to create friendships. So what would you want, if you’re setting up your ideal outdoor space? A garden? Would you go for the fire pit over the outdoor fireplace? How would you build your personal outdoor oasis?

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