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What Is A California Room? Top Benefits & 9 Captivating Ideas

By Jayme Muller

September 25, 2023

Let’s start things off with a quote from San Francisco born and raised poet, Gary Snyder:

“Nature is not a place to visit, it is home.”

And what better way to embrace this notion… Than with a California room?

A seamless fusion of homey comforts and open-air living… This is a space where you can bask in the natural light, breathe in the fresh air, and unwind under the stars, all within your very own backyard.

We hardly have to tell you how great this sounds. After all, there’s a reason why California rooms have become a go-to home design trend… Even beyond the bounds of the Golden State.

california room featured image

So if you’re looking to hop on the bandwagon and enjoy the simple pleasures of outdoor living, right outside your back door… Then read on to learn all there is to know about California rooms (and why you should want one).

(Psst! Stay tuned ‘til the end to check out inspired, real-life California room ideas from our customers!)

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The What And Why Of California Rooms

Aptly referred to as outdoor living rooms… The California room is just that.

Unlike a simple covered patio or porch… These elevated indoor-outdoor living spaces are embellished with homey touches, allowing them to serve as seamless transition rooms between inside and out.

Though California rooms come in all shapes, sizes, and styles… They’ll feature at least one full wall and a roof, leaving the space part-sheltered, part-open to the outdoors. (Hence, their popularity in regions with year-round mild weather… Like their namesake state, California!)

Inspired by the open-air Hawaiian lanai… The California room originated in southern California to take full advantage of the region’s pleasant climate.

Today, however, they’re proving to be a popular addition in other temperate locales across the country.

But that said, California rooms are hardly the only indoor-outdoor home design trend taking homeowners by storm…

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Florida Rooms... Sunrooms... California Rooms... What’s The Difference?

wide shot of florida room and patio next to pool

Florida Room

galley outdoor kitchen with bar island and seating

California Room

At this point… You may be curious about what sets California rooms apart from other outdoor living spaces, such as Florida rooms or sunrooms.

Allow us to break it down for you.

For starters, the phrases “Florida room” and “sunroom” refer to the same thing. 

Generally, those living in the southeastern US lean toward the term “Florida room,” while the rest of the country embraces the term “sunroom.” 

Whether you call it “Florida room” or “sunroom,” however… What you’re really referring to is a fully enclosed addition off the side or back of a home, featuring a complete roof and glass or screen walls. 

Florida rooms/sunrooms will let in as much natural light as possible… Without actually exposing you to the outdoor elements. 

California rooms, on the other hand, will feature a full roof… But they are lacking those protective screens or glass walls. 

Because sunrooms/Florida rooms provide the illusion of being immersed in the outdoors, while simultaneously shielding you from the elements... This makes them the perfect choice for places with unpredictable weather patterns.

Say you’re living in Texas, for instance. A fully enclosed Florida room would certainly keep the humid summer air at bay.

On the other hand… In a spot like New York, adding heaters to a sunroom would be a great way to trap in heat and enjoy outdoor living, even in the off-season.

Without enclosed walls for proper climate control… California rooms are instead intended for locales with temperate weather year-round.

Understanding the nuances between California rooms and sunrooms/Florida rooms is crucial… As it will help you choose the right type of space for your needs.

But if you’re lucky enough to live in a region that does have beautiful weather all four seasons… Capitalizing on that with a California room is an incredible idea.

ROI On Your Mind? Homebuyers Drool Over California Rooms

outdoor kitchen on patio with dining room table

When building a new home or adding new construction to your property… It’s important to know if all the time and money you’ll be dishing out will be worth it down the road.

In other words… If you decide to cash in on your home, will adding a California room pay off?

Because they’re open to the outdoors and not properly climate-controlled… California rooms don’t quite qualify as real “rooms.”

So when you decide to resell… They won’t be included in the total usable square footage of your property.

But don’t give up hope.

A well-designed California room can still boost your property’s resale value… In the form of curb appeal.

Homebuyers tend to be drawn to outdoor living spaces like moths to a flame… And a California room can certainly be an appealing feature for potential purchasers.

In fact, according to the real estate experts at Rocket Homes… An attached outdoor living space can actually add at least $20,000 to your home’s resale value.

Considering the average California room cost is around $15,000… This equates to earning all your money back, and then some.

But that’s not all… Adding other permanent fixtures to your California room will only increase your property’s total value. (Cough, cough… outdoor kitchens).

So on that note… Let’s run through tips for crafting a well-designed California room.

How To Use Your California Room To The Fullest

The key to a well-crafted California room is bringing indoor amenities outside… Taking the space beyond a part-porch, part-room and transforming it into a true livable addition to your outdoor living area.

So, if you’re wondering how to decorate and furnish a California room of your own… Let’s run through your best options.

Create A Sense Of Continuity Between Inside And Out

l shaped outdoor grill island on deck with dining table

First and foremost, California rooms are all about creating a seamless transition from your indoor space to the great outdoors… Blurring the lines between the two.

So, how can you accomplish this?

Though not a necessity, consider adding expansive windows or large glass doors to your home, which open out to the California room.

Natural light will spill into your home before you even step foot out the door… As your California room beckons from the other side.

Additionally, cohesion between inside and out largely comes down to complementary design elements.

Use similar materials, colors, and patterns for the flooring, furnishings, and decor both inside and out… Tying your indoor and outdoor areas together to make the two spaces feel more like one. (Your California room is meant to be an addition to your home… And should look the part!)

Finally, peppering potted plants and greenery inside and out is another way to bridge the gap between your home’s interior and the outdoor California room… Turning two separate spaces into part of the same whole, and fully embracing the fresh-air living experience.

Take A Stab At Climate Control

an rta summer kitchen under a covered patio with a fireplace

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again… California rooms are best suited to regions with mild weather year-round.

But honestly, even the most temperate locales can experience unexpected cold fronts or heat waves every now and again!

And if you want an outdoor space that’s prepared to deal with Mother Nature’s inevitable mood swings… We’d suggest taking steps to keep your California room climate-controlled.

But wait… Didn’t we already say that proper climate control is nearly impossible in California rooms?

Well, yes.

The open-air nature of these outdoor living rooms makes it difficult to ensure consistent, steady heating and cooling, day in and day out.

But that said, there are still ways to keep your California room warmer on cool nights… And cooler on warm days. (Just don’t expect it to be as reliable as central air!)

Hanging ceiling fans from the roof can stir up a refreshing breeze on stuffy summer days…

And when the temps drop… A fire pit, fireplace, or outdoor heaters will stave off the chill, and keep your California room more comfortable.

Light Up Your Outdoor Living Space

Just because the sun goes down… Doesn’t mean you should leave your California room.

And if you want to keep your parties going well into the night… Lighting is a key component to factor into your California room design.

Luckily, you won’t be limited when it comes to options.

From recessed lighting to chandeliers, pendant lights to wall sconces, string lights and more… There’s really no end to how you choose to illuminate.

What you end up choosing comes down to your personal tastes… So don’t hold yourself back!

If you’re keen on a calming ambiance after sundown… Consider casting your California room in a warm, relaxing glow with subtle string or pendant lights.

But if you’d rather go a step further and make your outdoor room bright as can be… Opt for more powerful recessed lighting, chandeliers, or wall sconces around the area.

Add Outdoor-Friendly Furnishings

l shaped outdoor kitchen in texas next to outdoor seating with a pergola

At their core, California rooms are meant for unwinding, kicking back, and socializing with those nearest and dearest to you.

So naturally, your outdoor space should be outfitted accordingly… With the right outdoor-rated furnishings. (Vinyl wicker, rattan, and recycled plastic are top-notch choices for weather-resistant outdoor furniture!)

While the sky’s the limit on how you furnish your backyard California room… Take a moment to consider your intentions for the space.

If you’re envisioning an al fresco social hub… Treat the space as if it were an outdoor family room. Fill it with outdoor-rated love seats, sofas, side tables, throw rugs, pillows, plus small decor items for personalization.

But if your dream California room design involves cooking and eating… Consider adding a dining area!

A well-fitting dining table and chairs set will do wonders to round out your room.

And of course… You can’t overlook the outdoor kitchen itself.

Perfect Outdoor kitchen for your california room

Create the perfect hangout spot for your California room using our free 3D design tool. Get started today!

Opt For An Outdoor Kitchen

If your aim is to spend as much time as possible in your California room… Adding an outdoor kitchen is practically a must.

Just steps outside your home… You’ll have a complete outdoor cooking setup for fresh BBQ and backyard parties year-round.

Plus, on those hot summer days… An outdoor kitchen can actually replace your indoor kitchen, effectively keeping heat (and food odors) outside.

With the option to add built-in grills, pizza ovens, refrigerators, sinks, ample storage, and more… It’s safe to say your summer kitchen will match (if not exceed) the functionality of your indoor setup.

But not only are outdoor kitchens a practical choice for your California room… There’s another bonus worth mentioning.

Building a permanent outdoor kitchen may actually further boost your property’s value!

Depending on your design, outdoor kitchens have been shown to have an ROI of 50% – 300%. If the resale value of a California room didn’t already seem sweet… An outdoor kitchen will certainly seal the deal!

Now, there’s just one important caveat that needs to be brought to light.

If you’re planning to build an outdoor kitchen under coverConsider including proper ventilation. This will ensure your safety, curb potential fire hazards, and keep your appliance warranties in effect.

Captivating California Room Ideas

By now, you should have a better feel for what a California room is, why you may want one, and how to design your very own.

And as promised… It’s finally time to take a look at some inspiring, real-life California room ideas from some of our happy customers.

(Spoiler alert… We are an outdoor kitchen company! So, all of the featured designs do spotlight a grill island.)

High-Class California Room Design For Cooking And Dining

linear grill island with dining table under roof with chandelier lighting

With an outdoor kitchen and dining table… This California room is perfect for cooking and dining the day away, in style. (Just look at that chandelier!) 

While partial walls may border the space… It’s still largely open to the fresh air, allowing you to catch a cool breeze day or night, and providing that al fresco feel (just with a little extra protection from the elements)

Fresh Air Family Room

outdoor seating area next to outdoor kitchen with outdoor tv

Large glass doors swing wide to this open-air family room… And as you walk through you’ll be greeted by the great outdoors. 

This large California room design has a little bit of everything… With a homey lounge seating area and TV for entertainment, lighting for nighttime enjoyment, plus a grill island for that extra layer of functionality. 

Really, would you ever need to go inside? 

Large Indoor-Outdoor Living Space

large indoor-outdoor living space

Here’s another large California room idea… Which spans this homeowner’s entire back patio! 

Again, there’s something for everyone in this design. 

The large sliding glass doors first open up to the BBQ island and dining area…

Walk down the patio, illuminated by pendant lights, and you’ll then come across additional seating space. (And what about that breathtaking view?) 

California & Sunroom Combined

California and sunroom combined

This California room may be on the smaller side, but there’s still much to love. 

The roof features both hanging lights and a ceiling fan… Outfitting the space for both climate-control and evening entertainment. 

Then, peer through the nearby wall… And you’ll notice that the space opens into a full-on sunroom! 

This goes to show that if you can’t settle for one outdoor living space alone… You can always double up. 

Cozy Outdoor Seating Area

Here’s another California room proving that smaller spaces shouldn’t hold you back. 

This homeowner maximized their covered outdoor space with an outdoor kitchen and welcoming seating area… And needless to say, the end result is certainly tempting. 

Outdoor Entertainment Oasis Under Cover

outdoor kitchen under roof with outdoor lighting

Windows and a glass door peer out on this backyard California room, beckoning you to come outside. 

And why wouldn’t you? 

There’s an outdoor TV… A large grill island… And plenty of seating options for you and your guests to enjoy warm days. 

Small California Room Idea

small california room idea

Who ever said that everything had to be under the same roof? 

In this California room design, you’ll walk out the glass back doors into a small covered seating area, with both recessed lighting and a ceiling fan to keep things comfortable. 

But that’s not all there is to the space. 

Walk down the steps, and you’ll find yourself face-to-face with an outdoor kitchen under an umbrella! 

Covered Patio California Room

covered patio california room

Conversely, here’s another California room design where most everything is under the same roof. 

An extra-large outdoor kitchen design boasts ample bar seating… An outdoor TV… Plus plenty of dining area. 

And you can access it all through a massive sliding glass door, effortlessly transforming this California room into a bona fide addition to the home. 

Blank Slate California Room Idea

blank slate california room idea

We’ll leave you with this idea.

Though it has the makings of a remarkable California room, with plenty of ceiling fans, recessed lighting, and a huge sliding glass door… There’s not yet much in this space (aside from the outdoor kitchen, that is!).

But, that’s the beauty of it! 

Allow this example to serve as a blank slate… And let your imagination roam free. 

What features come to mind? 

Whether you’re envisioning a dining area… An outdoor entertainment space… Or something else entirely, getting a firm grasp of what you want in your own design is the first step to getting started. 

Speaking of…

Get Started With The Best Feature For Your California Room 

galley outdoor kitchen with bar seating and a tv

As you’ve likely guessed… Planning a California room takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you’re aiming to flesh out your design with all the bells and whistles, like an outdoor kitchen.

Allow us to alleviate some of that pressure for you.

At RTA, we’re firm believers that not everything needs to be complicated… Which is why we offer one of the easiest, most convenient outdoor kitchen solutions out there.

In just five minutes, you can fully design a custom layout with our free online design tool

And from there, one of our experienced Design Experts will then help you perfect your ideas.

After being manufactured to your specifications… Your kitchen is shipped straight to your door.

Then, all that’s left is a quick, easy installationAnd voila! An outdoor kitchen can come together in your California room in just one afternoon.

To find out more, our Learning Hub is a great place to start.

Then, try out our design tool… And we’ll help you with the rest.

Need Help With Your Plans?

Talk to one of our expert designers and they will guide you from planning to installation. Schedule a call today.


Aptly referred to as outdoor living rooms… The California room is just that.

Unlike a simple covered patio or porch… These elevated indoor-outdoor living spaces are embellished with homey touches, allowing them to serve as seamless transition rooms between inside and out.

Though California rooms come in all shapes, sizes, and styles… They’ll feature at least one full wall and a roof, leaving the space part-sheltered, part-open to the outdoors.

While both sunrooms and Florida rooms are fully enclosed with glass or screen walls… A California room will have an open-air layout.

Sunrooms and Florida rooms provide the illusion of being immersed in the outdoors, while simultaneously shielding you from the elements... Making them the perfect choice for places with unpredictable weather patterns.

Without enclosed walls… California rooms are instead intended for locales with temperate climates year-round.

Inspired by the open-air Hawaiian lanai… The California room originated in southern California to take full advantage of the region’s pleasant climate. Hence, the name “California” room!

Though the average cost will vary greatly depending on how grandiose your design ideas are… The average cost of a California room is generally considered to be around $15,000.

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