(pictured above) California room in Santa Ynez mountains photographed by Diana Paulson featuring dining table and benches from the Mason Collection

What’s a California Room?

A California room is an indoor-outdoor hybrid extension of your living room, dining room and/or kitchen. Think of it as a semi-enclosed porch with all the inside amenities you love – electricity for appliances, chargers and entertainment systems; a cooktop for meal prep; a roof to shield you from the elements; and comfortable furniture for lounging. Many California rooms have three walls with one open to the outdoors plus lighting so you can enjoy the space in the evening.

Typically, these rooms act as extensions of the main house with one attached wall. However, some are built as freestanding structures in the yard.

“The California room concept pulls the interior seamlessly into the exterior using materials, furnishings, lighting and function.”

The outdoor California room doesn’t have too many hard and fast rules . It’s mostly about adding extra space to your home via underutilized outdoor areas.

Indoor/outdoor living space with outdoor kitchen
Indoor/outdoor living space with outdoor kitchen for mobile display

(pictured above) California room patio with outdoor kitchen featuring Merced extension dining table and Pacific dining chair

“Many of our clients realize they have valuable real estate within their property that is not being used or enjoyed, mainly because there is nothing enticing them outdoors,” said Bliss Gonsalves of Oliver John. “When we ask them how they use their interior spaces, they are usually surprised to discover that those same uses can be carried outdoors. The California room concept pulls the interior seamlessly into the exterior using materials, furnishings, lighting and function.”

How California Rooms Differ from Sunrooms & Lanais

Sunrooms typically featuring screens or have windows that don’t provide the complete open-air feeling of a California room. The lanai however – a staple of the Hawaiian outdoor lifestyle – is fairly similar to a California room.


Ojai furniture in California room
Ojai furniture in California room for mobile display

(pictured above) Outdoor lanai patio furnished with Ojai sectional pieces

 Lanais tend to have open walls, seating areas and often a ceiling fan. Many think the lanai is part of the inspiration for the current California room craze.

Are California Rooms a Good Investment?

We caught up with Ben Howard, a Northern California broker and pricing expert, to learn whether adding a California room to an existing home pays off when it comes time to sell.

“With our climate in Northern California, these California rooms attract buyers as they add value to a space. That space otherwise couldn’t be used if it was too hot, raining or uncovered. An investment in a California room is like adding square footage to a house. When family and friends visit, we have additional space for guests to spread out rather than having everyone confined inside.”

The cost of building a California room depends on several factors:

  • Is it a freestanding structure or does it connect to the home and share a wall? 
  • Are you renovating an existing patio with a roof or starting from scratch?
  • Will the space need to be wired for cooking, lighting and entertaining?

The starting estimate from many sources is approx. $20,000 for a complete California room. Experts also say that the increase in your property value should be as much or more than your building costs.

Best Practices for Building a California Room

California Room featuring Bordeaux table and bench
California Room featuring Bordeaux table and bench for mobile display

(pictured above) Bordeaux table and bench featured in a California Room design by Outdoor Space Designs

“For most of our clients, we start from scratch, creating master plans for entire properties that weave several different spaces together, much like the different rooms of a home,” said Gonsalves. “We have found that our clients want the indoor aesthetic to flow effortlessly through to the exterior spaces.”

This style includes carrying the interior flooring outside and using granite countertops for the outdoor kitchen to create a connection to the inside space. Gonsalves recommends LED lighting in a warm color palette and outdoor-rated fixtures. Everyone loves sitting by the fire, so fire tables are popular elements – especially with the burn restrictions in California. And comfortable, inviting outdoor furniture is a must.

“Terra Outdoor furniture is perfect for drawing people into a space with elegant styles that put comfort first. It’s designed to last while standing up to kids and elements, all without being fussy or hard to care for,” said Gonsalves.

Design Tips for Success

California room collage
We got a few more California room tips from Becky Horan of Outdoor Space Designs. These include:

  • Create inviting seating areas right outside the doors to help draw people out.
  • Avoid putting dining sets right outside the door, because they tend to block the flow from one space to another.
  • Ceiling fans or misting systems will allow you to control temperatures and maximize time spent outside in the summer. Additionally, fire tables or patio heaters do the same during cooler months.
  • Don’t forget storage! Therefore, remember to factor in cabinets for glassware, candles, lighters, sunscreen and other items you use outside.

Furnishing Your Newly Extended Living Space

At Terra, we constantly meet homeowners and builders looking to furnish their California room projects. Therefore our team boasts extensive knowledge of which of our products work best in these spaces. Below, find some of the most coveted pieces recommended by Rocklin showroom manager Chantal Marchessault: