Builders and designers share tips on incorporating outdoor living trends into your new home.
Decks, patios, and porches have become our sanctuaries—prime spots to relax or entertain others. These outdoor living spaces are essentially extensions of our homes and as consumers of new homes look to incorporate outdoor areas into their abodes, they are adding innovative design and construction elements to make these spaces truly shine.
Joe Buelow, designer at Sustainable 9 Design + Build, says that there are many options when it comes to enhancing a new home’s indoor-outdoor area. This can range from a simple screened-in room to an entertainment area with an outdoor kitchen, built-in firepit, pizza ovens, heaters, outdoor electronics, AV systems, and retractable screens.
Clients are often seeking a continuous connection amongst their indoor-outdoor spaces, broken up by either a lift and slide door, bifold door, or Phantom Screens. “Today’s outdoor living areas are an extension of the home and not an afterthought,” Buelow says. “Keeping the flooring materials, light fixtures, paint colors, and furniture consistent bridges the gap between the indoors and outdoors.”
According to Katrina Williamson, design consultant at JP Brooks Builders, the goal of achieving a beautiful, usable outdoor space is to design with the same attention you give your indoor space. “Plan out and designate areas for specific functions as you would inside: a dining space, food prep space, lounging space, and activity/gaming space—yet with an open-concept design to connect them,” Williamson says.
“Introduce comfort furnishings as you would in your family room, like pillows, soft blanket throws, art, and great lighting. Layering lighting with ambient, task, and accent fixtures adds mood, as well as depth and dimension to your outdoor space.”
As Williamson explains, a “hot” design term for outdoor design spaces is “biophilic design.” This is the concept of not only being outdoors with natural elements, but purposely incorporating them into the design and structure of your outdoor living spaces.
“The use of built-in planters as dividers between spaces, or adding living walls are some examples,” Williamson says. “Other popular features are folding glass doors and retractable or motorized screens to create a seamless transition from indoors to out.”
In addition, Julie Speer, director of design at Hartman Homes, says outdoor fireplaces are also a “must-have” in many newly constructed homes.
“Incorporating materials like wood planking, steel, and stone to the surface of the fireplace adds more texture and layers of dimension to the space,” Speer says. “Features that extend the usability of the space are also key. Fireplaces, awnings, shades, and heaters are all amenities that allow the space to be used more of the year—whether it’s taking the chill out or blocking the harsh evening sun.”
Indeed, as Paige Radford, director of brand management and marketing at Robert Thomas Homes explains, incorporating natural lighting into architectural plans is something that has always been important to homebuyers. This trend continues with bigger windows and large aperture openings that provide a seamless transition between indoors and out.
“We’ve seen an increase in the popularity of outdoor entertaining,” Radford says. “There are so many things you can do to enhance your outdoor space. If you are looking at more elaborate changes, it is important to consider choosing quality products and materials that will be worth the investment in the long run and won’t need to be replaced due to weathering in the short term.”
Written By Maura Keller