dog pergola

Expanding the footprint of your home by adding outdoor living spaces does more than just meet your style and social needs. Being outside is really, really, really good for you. Even without exercise— being outside in natural light and shade can improve your health and happiness at an accelerated speed.

Jamie Ducharme, a correspondent for TIME magazine on health and science explains, "Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is one of the fastest ways to improve your health and happiness.” Less than 20 minutes in the outdoors has “been shown to lower stress, blood pressure and heart rate, while encouraging physical activity and buoying mood and mental health."

Not only is our mental and physical health greatly benefited by spending more time outside, the physiological effects the body’s health is real and it is measurable, says Michelle Kondo, a research and social scientist with the USDA-Forest Service.

Being outside is essential to the body's functions and makes you feel more alive. It balances the circadian rhythms, strengthens the immune system, reduces inflammation, increases memory, and helps the mind to focus clearly.

Participants in studies also reported feeling happier, more socially connected and confident.

Interesting to me is that some said they were more comfortable with uncertainty. All felt more energetic and empathetic. Others experienceed improved eyesight, and weight loss. And when it comes to exercise, people who exercised outside reported feeling happier, more confident, and more energetic than those who opted to exercise indoors.

The restorative environment of nature continues long after we have gone inside. For example, a good nights sleep starts with fresh air and sunshine; which is quintessential to rapid eye movement (REM) that empties the stress bucket.

Hormone analysis and new brain-imaging technology utilized by Yoshifumi Miyazaki from the University of Chiba and Qing Li from the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, uncovered effects of being outdoors on the molecular level and proved over and over again that being in the outdoors is medicine.

Miyazaki says you don’t have live next to the ocean or a forest to receive the incredible benefits nature has to offer. Even a small area to take in sunlight, shade, and other elements of nature has a physiological and relaxing effect that greatly enhanced and soothed the brain and body of participants. “It’s great to go to the forest, but you might only be able to do that once a month or once a year. There are lots of people who don’t like the forest, and in Japan some are allergic to tree pollen or dislike insects.”

"Use your garden, "Miyazaki suggests —or on a smaller level— if you only have a balcony of an apartment— have an outdoor space you where you can conveniently go outside every day for longer periods of time.

Although being out-of-doors is known to better your health, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that Americans spend an average of 90% of their time indoors. So, as the end of summer nears and the daylight hours become shorter, there will be less time to enjoy the benefits of sunlight. An outdoor living space is the perfect solution.

No two spaces are exactly alike. Having a custom designed outdoor addition for your home to enhance your family’s overall well-being will also offer a place to entertain guests. Looking beyond the health benefits, an outdoor living area is a benefit to your home’s bottom line.

Spaces for enjoying time outside everyday is at the top of home owner's wish list. Subsequently, outdoor living areas are a top priority for professionals in residential design. In another Cost verses Value report 11 out of 12 projects that had the greatest return on investment (ROI) were exterior home improvements. An outdoor living space averages 70 to 80% return, one of the biggest returns for the dollar to increase the value of a home. Creating year-round usable outdoor living spaces remained a top priority.

In a recent survey of New Home Trends in collaboration with industry professionals across the nation, including more than 300 pro architects, along with interior designers, realtors, and landscapers responded with their experiences, opinions, and predicted trends for the next three to five years. Outdoor entertaining and natural outdoor living spaces ranked in the top 10 list. Among those surveyed, 93% of those surveyed agreed that an outdoor space made a home stand out over another for resale, and 65% said it added between ten and thirty percent value to a home.

However, there are many other factors that came into play when considering cost verses value. Take for an example, an outdoor kitchen. In warmer climates such as in the southwest would have a higher ROI when comparing it to regions that experience colder climates.

It may be of interest to some, as it has also been our experience, of all the outdoor advantages, creating year-round usable space is at the top of the list.

There are several ways to increase your home’s value:

1. Make Your Outdoor Living Space Usable Year-Round

The first step to creating a year-round usable outdoor living space is protection with a timber frame shade shelter. A timber frame structure (built with wood-to-wood connections) is the strongest, longest lasting material for shelter.  It is also the best for your health and comfort. Wood is healing to touch and is a natural temperature regulator.

The type and design for your shade shelter depends on the region, existing landscape, and how you intend to use your outdoor space.

Timber Frame Pavilion

With year-round living at the top of the list, is it any wonder that so many of our ShadeScape® families enjoy their backyard under the protection of a Western Timber Frame™ pavilion. It is our most popular shade shelter to get outside any and every day of the year.

Pavilions provide complete protection from the weather. Spend a crisp winter evening toasting marshmallows around an open fire, or get your family together for a summer barbecue. With a completely covered roof, you can enjoy your backyard in any season with a ShadeScape® Timber Pavilion.

Here in Florida, a Western Timber Frame™ ShadeScape® DIY Pavilion doubles as an outdoor living room and carport.


Timber Frame Gazebo

Much like a pavilion, gazebos provide an enclosed roof for full protection from the weather. The distinct characteristic of a gazebo is in its shape, and traditionally it is known as a place to gaze or take in the view.

Pictured on the right is a integrated gazebo and pavilion design:

Then, below is a gazebo with a tiered open roof. All of our roofed structures can be tiered or opened as much or as little as you like.

A Western Timber Frame™ ShadeScape® DIY gazebo features a tiered roof that allows air circulation and an extra element of architectural design.#DIYGazeboPlan

Timber Frame Pergola

Pergolas offer the best of both, shade and sunshine and increases the hours and time you can spend outdoors. If you design and orient a pergola, you can have additional protection, and shade to enjoy your yard at all times of the day.

With lights, you can enjoy your pergola late into the evenings. #DIYPergolaPlan

Timber Frame Trellis

Trellises are often used to accent an outdoor living space but they do provide protection usually in the way of a wind break, privacy and additional shade. Even though there are some common design features between some outdoor living shelters, nothing compares to the vast artistic license trellises provide in the orchestrating of a landscape design.

A Western Timber Frame™ ShadeScape® trellis is a perfect to add privacy, shade, and a wind break.

DIY trellis plan

#DIYTrellisPlan Western Timber Frame ShadeScape® DIY Trellis Plan

Timber Frame Arbor

Traditionally, arbors have long been associate with trellises, latticeworks and gardens. An arbor or trellis can create new dimension with an inviting feel to a garden, nook, or landscaped area. They are fantastic substrate for plants, compared to metal arbors or latticeworks, which can burn and freeze growing plants. They are excellent for vertical gardening to keep vegetables and flowers off of the ground, or even to grow a vegetable garden in a limited space, or a nook in your backyard.

An arbor offers a way to cover and protect a smaller area, such as an enjoyable garden swing, sitting area, kiddie pool, hot tub, grow box, TV or barbecue station.

outdoor tv arbor

Making your outdoor living space fit for year-round comfort can be as simple as finding a suitable heat source. This could mean a fire pit, outdoor heater, heat lamp, or fireplace. In extreme temperatures, using heavy blankets can make an outdoor gathering enjoyable and extra cozy.

chandelier fireplace pavilion

Kendall Grose, owner of the above pictured ShadeScape® pavilion told us that winter outdoor here was his favorite time. He loved to light his outdoor fireplace and snuggle by it with a good book breathing in the crisp, refreshing air. On the other end of the spectrum, and outdoor fan can create a gentle breeze during the hottest months of the year.

2. Adding a Deck or Patio

A deck or patios is a desired amenity for most homeowners. Even a modest deck or patio can expand the living space of your home without incurring the expense of an addition.

In some cases going up with a deck over a patio can double your outdoor living space as pictured here in this before and after deck makeover:

deck timber frame
attached pergola kit

3. Installing A/V System & Lighting

Another way to potentially increase your ROI by 7% to 12% is with an outdoor A/V system for a home theater, surveillance, control of lights, and WIFI. Western Timber Frame outdoor wood arbors, gazebos, pavilions and pergolas can be pre-drilled with a hole down the center of one post to accommodate any and all of your electrical and lighting needs.

power post
watch football under cabana

4. Building Privacy

Enjoying privacy for outdoor activities is often requested. This can include privacy curtains, fences, screens, or walls; which serve to protect a laptop or outdoor TV from the sun's glare.

5. Working or Studying in the Outdoors

As more and more employees and students are working and learning from home distractions can make it more difficult to concentrate and accomplish the tasks at hand. Happily, Western Timber Frame® has long been ahead of the new trends, encouraging functional outdoor work and learning spaces to better your health in this world of technology.

If you need to work on the computer or want to watch a movie, your experience will be enhanced by surrounding yourself with the outdoors. Adding coverage will invite you out until it becomes a relished habit that your body will love you for.

6. Creating Functional Small Spaces


Not everyone has great areas of landscape, but this doesn't mean that a homeowner doesn't want to improve an outdoor space and make it functional. A small side area, porch or balcony can create an outdoor living space on a smaller scale, providing solitude, privacy and an outdoor working space.

attached pergola
Deck with picnic table and pergola

7. Front Yard Outdoor Living

diy pergola kit

In more cases than not, the backyard serves as the private oasis for families to enjoy. Future trends are expected to utilize the front of the yard as well. This trend isn't just about aesthetics for curb appeal, front yards are rising in popularity as a functional space as well as outdoor entertainment. The trend is a reinvention of the American front porch that once brought neighbors and communities closer together. The front yard with a covered space with shade will encourage a return to this way of communication.

8. Cooking in the Outdoors

timber frame gazebo

In climates where an outdoor kitchen would be used more often, it is possible to see as much as 100 to 200% ROI.

Outdoor kitchens create an environment that is easy to entertain in.

We highly recommend at least a partially covered space to protect your investment.

The closer an outdoor kitchen is to the home the easier it is to access, and transport food, drinks, and other items. If the outdoor kitchen is a further away from the house, consider having more storage and ample countertop space. This will eliminate extra trips back and forth.

Outdoor Kitchen Pavilion Kit
outdoor kitchen pavilion
pergola outdoor barbecue

9. Planting Native or Permaculture Gardens

desert pergola cactus

A gardening trend of using native plants and permaculture is a trend that is here to stay. This type of landscaping is usually more drought-friendly, conserving water with less maintenance or likelihood of becoming invasive. Plus they provide a natural habitat for butterflies and hummingbirds; which brings so much delight when relaxing out-of-doors.

vertical garden
vertical garden trellis
latticed privacy walls

10. Enjoying Edible Gardening

Edible gardens are expected to be bigger than ever, and is likely to maintain its momentum for years to come. An edible garden brings flavor to the meal and improves health with fresh vegetables and herbs.

Gardening can happen even on a balcony or small patio. If you have even a small space to spare, you can do vertical gardening with a trellis or placing planters along a timber wall.

Design Consultants are helpful as they have a lot of experience and knowledge in materials, construction, outdoor living planning and design. They are happy to assist you in terms of budget, design decisions, and how adhere and to and work with your city's ordinances.

Our favorite Part of Home & Garden Shows is Re-meeting Families We Built For

best “Brian!” an exuberant voice called out to one of our Design Consultants during one of our annual Home and Garden shows. It was another happy family that had previously purchased a pergola from us.

“I had to see you.” she continued, “I cannot express enough to you guys, how happy I am with our pergola. My husband has spent more time outside in the last year than he has in the last ten years! It has helped him to lose a lot of weight and our relationship is better than ever. It has really changed our lives. We couldn’t be happier! I wanted you guys to know that.”

We improve life and relationships by creating inspiring environments.

Utah Stories: Western Timber Frame

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