(NewsUSA) – Summer cookouts. Relaxing nights. Weekend staycations. Whether entertaining friends or simply relaxing with family, homeowners are enjoying vacation vibes in their own backyards. Serene porches and oasis-like patios are all the rage these days, and design pros – aiming to pair comfort and functionality – are crafting these stylish spaces with natural materials such as cypress. Beautiful and Durable Jane Frederick of Frederick + Frederick Architects in Beaufort, South Carolina, and president-elect of the American Institute of Architects, says homeowners are looking for comfortable spaces for entertaining. "Our area is hot and humid," she adds. "Screened-in porches with ceiling fans continue to be extremely popular upgrades in new construction and renovations."And full outdoor kitchens are no longer must-haves, says Frederick. "Most people want porches with a simple kitchen, integrating a grill and plenty of countertop space, storage, and seating – good-looking light fixtures, too."To top off a porch with a high-end look, Frederick chooses cypress for ceilings, overhangs, and rafter tails. Why? "First and foremost, cypress is a beautiful material. But equally important, cypress is naturally resistant to decay and mildew. And it’s locally sourced." How About a "Prefab" Structure Built to Last? "Pergolas and pavilions offer open, airy outdoor spaces, yet provide relief from direct sunlight, to enjoy dinner or cocktails after a long day at the office," says Hubert Burns of My Outdoor Rooms in Dothan, Alabama. "They can also be outfitted with TVs and fireplaces, and adorned with plants and drapery to add privacy and a personal touch."Most importantly, outdoor living space is an investment and homeowners deserve high-quality structures that will last. We’ve been building with cypress for more than 10 years, and found that it performs well when exposed to the elements, is naturally durable and resistant to insect infestation, and is more beautiful than pressure-treated wood."Building a gorgeous, outdoor cypress pergola or pavilion need not be a daunting task. Burns says that companies across the country specialize in prefabricating structures and ship nationwide, taking the stress out of design and construction. "Prefabrication ensures they are high-quality and can be installed quickly," Burns adds. "And three people can install a 16-foot-by-16-foot pergola in about five hours."For more tips on creating your outdoor living space with cypress, visit www.CypressInfo.org.