Homeowners seek ways to build and accessorize their outdoor spaces with as much panache as their indoor rooms.

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Outdoor rooms have gained in popularity within new construction and in remodels of existing homes, as homeowners seek ways to build and accessorize their outdoor spaces with as much panache as their indoor rooms.

“We’re seeing lots of customers come in seeking wood they can use to construct outbuildings or accessories for festive outdoor spaces,” says Stacy Kovats, who directs marketing at century-old Issaquah Cedar in Issaquah, a retailer and manufacturer which sources cedar, pine, and many exotic hardwoods from within a 500-mile radius.

In the Northwest, summer is short and sweet, with picture-perfect sunny days, hot but not broiling temperatures, fecund gardens, and fewer mosquitoes and bugs than other regions. This means patio dining, gardening, and out-of-town guests are inevitable — and thus a celebration of the short season is in order.

Here’s a look at trends Issaquah Cedar is seeing, many of which consumers are building using instructions and schematics from websites such as Real Cedar.com.


“People are looking for wood they can use to make everything from homemade picnic tables to slanted roofs to cover their patios,” Kovats notes. “They’re also making wooden benches, Adirondack chairs, and wooden-framed ice chests.”

Constructing a picnic table using a basic design is a project that the average homeowner can tackle and complete in a weekend or two, she says. Benches are also simple projects.

Cedar is ideal for permanent outdoor furniture, since it is affordable, can withstand rain and is pest-proof. Exotic hardwoods (such as Ipe) are also a good choice, though they cost considerably more than cedar.

Outdoor bars or kitchen prep areas

An outdoor bar counter or covered and functioning bar has become popular, particularly with a “service door” and counter dividing a food preparation space from a hangout area with or without benches. Some homeowners build these structures from scratch, while others use wood or metal to re-side or decorate outdoor garden sheds for this purpose. Adding lighting, a bartender sink, or hanging lanterns can make for a festive corner of the yard or center of attention during a patio party.

Kovats notes that if these structures are going to live outside year-round, builders would want to use stainless steel screws and fasteners and “powder-coated” metals which are more rust-resistant than other types. (Galvanized steel that has been powder-coated is a popular urban or casual look.)

Slanted roofs and pergolas

Whether designed to offer full sun and rain coverage or just a decorative look and partial shade, pergolas and so-called “lean-to” roofs that slant down in only one (not two) directions are popular. Some homeowners construct lean-to roofs with real shingles for full rain coverage during summer’s often-drizzly bridge seasons, while others use wood as a roof screen above a sitting or outdoor cooking area to add visual intrigue to their yard.

Those working on outdoor rooms can take heart that constructing them is a good investment.  Remodeling Magazine noted in a 2017 research report that outdoor living remodeling projects are popular among homeowners, and that they recoup about 55 percent of the money invested to create them at resale time.

Issaquah Cedar and Lumber has been in business for over 115 years. We supply the Puget Sound area with the highest-quality Western red cedar products and materials, including decking, siding, beams, shakes, shingles and custom-milled cedar materials.