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Indoor-Outdoor Living: How Denver's Climate Influences Home Design | Guest Post

Denver’s diverse climate is one of the many factors that draw people to the city. However, it also makes home design a challenge, as indoor/outdoor spaces must be specially constructed to withstand a range of conditions.
Rachel Tolander

Denver is one of the most beautiful cities in America. Its sunny days and moderate climate have it on many people’s short list of places to visit and/or relocate to. In addition, Denver is one of the only cities where you can truly experience the four seasons. While this is enticing for people who enjoy hats and sweaters just as much as bathing suits and flip flops, it does create some challenges when designing a home. Indoor/outdoor spaces must be constructed to withstand and thrive in a wide range of weather conditions. With this in mind, keep reading as we explore the various ways that Denver’s climate influences home design decisions.  

Upgraded Decks

A deck is one of the most straightforward means of creating functional exterior space. In order to thrive in the unique climate, Denver decks must have some upgraded features to maximize comfort in the outdoor environment.

Pergolas or attached awnings are a must for providing shade. They also protect furniture and cedar decking boards from the high-altitude sun and the afternoon hail that sometimes rolls into the area. Table umbrellas and portable awnings probably will not be sufficient. Although the weather in Denver is usually dream-worthy, strong winds arrive whenever the temperature changes, causing less-substantial exterior features to blow away.

Denver decks should also feature low profile deck railing. Stainless steel and hog wire are strong options. This can secure the deck without encumbering the breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains in the distance. 

Large Windows

Large windows are a key element of biophilic design. They allow natural sunlight into the home. They can increase connectivity between interior and exterior spaces. 

While increased window area has exciting potential for enhancing energy efficiency via reduced reliance on electric lighting, it also creates a potential weak spot in the building envelope. Window-to-wall transitions are notorious for allowing unwanted air transfer.

Hurricane-grade storm windows are a great material for keeping unwanted air out. Made from structural steel frames and reinforced glass panels, these heavy-duty windows can withstand winds up to 250 MPH and projectile impact up to 100 MPH. For improved aesthetics, the right window trim can complement various types of siding while providing an additional layer of protection itself. 

Elite Roofing Features

The roof is the home’s first line of defense against inclement weather and one of the primary drivers of a property’s curb appeal. As Denver roofs see temperatures ranging from sub-zero to triple digits and every form of precipitation imaginable, they must have elite roofing features in order to perform these multiple tasks effectively. Fire- and wind-resistance is an important factor, making materials such as metal and composite asphalt popular. In addition, roof insulation, drip edge flashing, and fortified gutters are other features that are necessary to make a Denver roof complete. 

Outdoor Kitchens

Every backyard needs a central feature that can keep residents entertained for hours on end. In many states, a pool is the big goal in this regard. However, pools just do not make much sense in Denver. The pool season at high altitude runs between Memorial Day and Labor Day (if you’re lucky), with many pool days cut short by afternoon thunderstorms.

Outdoor kitchens present a better option. They can be built to withstand the diverse Denver weather conditions. Nonporous quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances, and permeable pavers along the flooring all withstand the sun, snowfall, and wind equally well. An outdoor kitchen creates a great venue for hosting get-togethers and is accessible in all seasons to enjoy the beautiful Mile High weather. 

Low Maintenance Landscaping

Denver is known for everything from extreme snowfall to scorching drought conditions. Various parts of the city are at risk for everything from avalanche to flooding to fire. This can make lawn maintenance quite a chore, especially for the resource-conscious homeowner. As such, consider low maintenance landscaping options, such as artificial turf and hardscaping, that will keep the lawn looking its best in all conditions with minimal intervention from the homeowner. 

Heated Driveways

In many states, heated driveways may be superfluous. In Colorado, they are a luxury that is definitely worth paying for. Denver residents spend hours after each snowfall shoveling and throwing down salt. Not only is this back-breaking, but it expedites the deterioration of the driveway. 

Heated driveways offer an exciting option for saving homeowners time and ensuring the longevity of the driveway. Using a series of substrate heating mats, electric heating systems can be controlled via smartphone app or by moisture and temperature sensors. This ensures that the driveway does not accumulate any ice or slushy buildup during winter storms. The cost to install heated driveway systems will vary based on size and driveway grade, but most can be installed for between $12 to $23 per square foot. 

Stay Ahead of the Denver Climate With Functional Design

Denver’s diverse climate is one of the many factors that draw people to the city. However, it also makes home design a challenge, as indoor/outdoor spaces must be specially constructed to withstand a range of conditions. For more ideas on how to improve the design of your Denver home, explore the resources at Denver Metro Association of Realtors for the leading market insights!


Rachel Tolander is a freelance writer that loves sharing her knowledge and experience in residential remodeling, construction, and safety. She lives in a small town North of Austin, Texas where she spends her free time cheering on her son at his ball games and spending time with her family. Rachel’s work as a freelance writer can be found on Building Product Advisor, a construction industry resource site.