Expand your space

Despite the Kansas weather, many Wichitans are extending their homes outside with trendy outdoor living spaces.

Photography by Gavin Peters

More people are not as quick to build, so now they upgrade their homes, said Tony Ferraro, owner of Ferraro's and Logan St. Fine Wood Products. The outdoor spaces are a good avenue to go.

Ferraro's businesses help people plan their outdoor spaces and do the outdoor woodwork. He has helped people create everything from a nice little patio to an outdoor oasis complete with fireplaces, television sets and built-in grills.

I think you need a water feature and some kind of a fireplace, Ferraro said. Those are the two most important elements outside.

Cherie Nies-Cowgill of Nies Construction attends the National Homebuilders Association Convention each year to keep up with home trends.

Outdoor living spaces are very, very popular right now, she said. People want their homes to open up and and feel larger.

Even with at least three months of frigid winter, Nies-Cowgill said Kansas is a great place to have an outdoor living area.

Nine months out of the year the outdoor space is still very use-able, she said. You can put in a ceiling fan to keep the air moving or a fireplace to keep warm.

Ferraro agreed that Kansas weather should not deter people from creating outdoor living rooms. The fall is wonderful here, he said. It's fantastic. Why not be outside?

One trend that has moved north is the use of Nana Walls or entire glass walls that open to the outdoors. The reason the Nana Wall is just reaching Kansas is because its insulation recently has gotten better and people now can trust it to hold comfortable indoor temperatures. Even people with older homes can add features like the Nana Wall, Nies- Cowgill said.

If they'd like to do something, make sure they get a really good qualified remodeler and use a structural engineer, Nies-Cowgill said. She said she does not think the idea of outdoor living will go away anytime soon.

It's a very popular thing, she said. I don't think it's just trendy; I think it's here to stay. It expands the living area. It enlarges it so you can have another entertainment space.

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