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The Next Level of Outdoor Living

The Indoor Outdoor fireplace from Ortal is a multifunctional masterpiece of innovative design. $19,842 (

By Leah Soto

As technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous, it’s natural to desire a counterbalance—such as a greater connection to the outdoors. To enhance your enjoyment of backyard and poolside living, consider the many furnishings, features and products available to provide indoor comfort and function.

“People want to be outside,” says Scottsdale-based custom-home builder Tim Beringer. “We are building fewer dedicated interior spaces, such as living rooms and dining rooms, and instead putting these areas outdoors.”

An increasing number of appliances and furnishings are being designed with outdoor living in mind as the concept gains traction. Televisions, showers, fireplaces, ovens and even beds are just a few of the items that are being incorporated in exterior spaces. But the options don’t stop there.

“Some more unique ways I’ve seen this idea applied includes private master bathing gardens that have a tub or hot tub with a shower, or a sunken lounge around a firepit in the middle of a pool,” Scottsdale-based interior designer and Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award winner Claire Ownby explains. “There also have been wonderful gains in the quality of outdoor-rated furnishings and fittings. Outdoor fabrics used to be limited in color and texture, with most feeling rough and plasticky. Now, there are many options that are durable enough for exterior use while looking and feeling like an interior fabric.”

The indoor/outdoor lifestyle is especially suitable for those living in the Southwestern desert, where the sun shines nearly every day. “Who wants to be inside when you can take advantage of our climate?” asks Beringer. “We do not have the issues that much of the U.S. has to contend with. We do not have snow problems, and though we do have some bugs and pests, it’s not like other parts of the country where you would not dare open the doors without screens.”

Spending a day outside in the midst of summer might prove too hot for some, however. Even swimming pools, the most common mode of cooling down, have a tendency to warm up under our summer sun. Beringer incorporates fog machines to pools and landscapes to keep the air cool while also creating a special ambiance that can be enhanced with lighting.

With so many viable options, there is hardly a need to go inside at all.

1. The Modular Outdoor Kitchen lets you customize your cooking space with gas grills, stove tops, refrigerators and prep surfaces. $449-$1,499 ( 2. Rinse off in the fresh air with the Vola 5251 Thermostatic Mixer outdoor shower. $3,435 ( 3. A built-in fog system keeps this ramada and lounge pool cool. ( 4. Catch some Z’s and some rays with the adjustable Dune Double Chaise Sofa Lounge with Canopy. $3,298 (


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