Better weather means its time to bring the inside out

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Use stone in an outdoor kitchen for a practical, beautiful living space. PHOTO COURTESY DISTINCTIVE GRANITE AND MARBLE

Here in the Lowcountry outdoor living is just as important as inside. Landscape, patios, decks, walkways, pools, gazebos and kitchens can all be part of a wonderful outdoor oasis that allows us to revel in the natural beauty of our environment.

With careful planning, you can actually create new living space that will bring year-round pleasure. Using stone in creative ways, you can create outdoor living spaces that are practical, comfortable, elegant and virtually maintenance-free.

Marble, granite, quartz and natural stone can and should be used in abundance. Consider the opportunities: outdoor kitchens, bars, patios, pool surrounds, walkways, banquettes, fireplaces, fire pits, cabana baths and every other alfresco application.

The new leather stone finish is an ideal option for outdoor design. With a rustic look and a finish that hides pollen and causes water to bead, maintaining and cleaning leather-finished granite and stone couldn't be easier.

Granite comes in so many colors and patterns, and has so many varieties; it's an easy and affordable choice for enduring outdoor use.

Travertine is also an excellent choice for patios and pool decks, often preferred by architects and interior designers. With a surface that is brushed, the stone feels soft, it's not hot or cold on your feet and it's not slippery.

Travertine is also a good choice for floors in an outdoor cabana bath. Combined with granite that could be finished in different ways for different uses, a stone bath is elegant and perfectly suited for outdoor living.

Have fun with your outdoor living space and treat it as you would your interiors. Consider lighting, colors, and furniture styles, seating arrangements, fabrics and awnings, accessories and decorative accents - just as you would for any room you were furnishing.

Investing in your outdoor living spaces is a wise investment in the Lowcountry. Stone increases the value of your home, it reduces maintenance costs, and it offers long-term durability in addition to aesthetic appeal.

And, don't forget that granite tabletops, countertops, and benches can be custom made for you.

It's time to expand your living spaces to the outdoors.

Andrea Antunes McGilton is project manager at Distinctive Granite and Marble, with showrooms in Okatie; Lady's Island; Pooler, Ga., and on Hilton Head Island.

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