SOUTH SIOUX CITY | Outdoor kitchens, cushioned wicker furniture, bright blue pottery, patterned rugs and weather-friendly wall art are helping homeowners extend their living spaces beyond the walls of their homes onto decks and patios.

Renee Palmersheim, owner of Bloomers Lawn & Garden Center in South Sioux City, said adding an outdoor living space, which could cost anywhere from $3,000 to upwards of $60,000, depending on an individual's needs and wants, can add tremendous value to a home.

"Inside, you're so confined to the way your house was built," she said. "Your outside can be an extension of who you are."

Before creating an outdoor living space, Palmersheim said homeowners should consider what function they want the space to serve and how long they plan to use it. Adding a fire pit, she said, can help lengthen the space's usability as the seasons change. Typically, she said an outdoor living space in Siouxland can be utilized eight months out of the year.

"They like to have the tables with the chairs and a cooking area. Any type of a fire pit to extend the season," she said.

Outdoor kitchens can be customized with water faucets, sinks, ice bins, warming drawers and grills that come in five different sizes. Palmersheim said the type of material chosen for the kitchen, such as granite, tile or concrete, will affect the price. 

Positioned on a paver patio between two tiki chairs outside Bloomers is a glass-topped fire pit called "the cove." The fire pit, which has a concrete base and steel burner, can run on propane or natural gas. Other outdoor fire features on display at Bloomers include fire coffee tables accented with crushed glass and a pub table with a concrete top and faux wood base. Set bar stools around the table and enjoy a drink or a snack while watching the glowing flames burning in the table's center.

"All of these are a drop-in-place-unit, which is the same with our outdoor kitchens," Palmersheim said. "There is no construction done on your side. Whether it's a deck or a concrete pad or a patio they already have, we simply drop this into place."

Three-tiered concrete fountains and fountainettes, small 1-gallon fountains that light up, are good choices to create a calming atmosphere in an outdoor space, according to Palmersheim.

Bloomers sells a tiki head fountainette that combines the elements of fire and water, as well as a fountainette that features a lighthouse perched on a rocky shore. Palmersheim said multi-tiered fountains are just as easy to maintain as fountainettes. To prepare either type for winter, just pull the pump and drain the water.

When it comes to decorating with with rugs, wall art and cushions, Palmersheim said some customers opt for traditional colors and patterns, while others go bold.

Wood-like wicker rockers with green cushions and palm tree-patterned pillows rest on a geometric rug at Bloomers. A southwestern-style outdoor fireplace anchors the space. 

"Wall art is big thing. They want to be able to decorate," Palmersheim said, standing next to a wall covered in canvas prints and ornate iron wall hangings. "They use the rugs to tie the space together."

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Health and Lifestyles reporter

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