Seven Outdoor Living Trends For 2021
Outdoor living has been a growing home improvement category for years, but the Covid-19 pandemic has really elevated the importance of having private space just beyond your own doors.
Here are some of the top trends for the new year, shared by leading renovation, real estate and building industry pros, and inspired by millions of Americans wanting to create their own great outdoor areas.
National Kitchen & Bath Association
This trade association looks at outdoor spaces, as well as indoor ones, and tracks trends for both categories. NKBA’s members include designers [myself included], manufacturers, retailers, distributors and allied professionals. Here’s what its membership trend survey is seeing for 2021, including a 65% increase in overall outdoor living project interest:
1. Outdoor kitchens are still in high demand. Among those planning outdoor areas, 60% plan to upgrade existing spaces for more functionality and better aesthetics. Outdoor kitchens, not surprisingly, were the top project, with 76% of those surveyed planning these areas. Next were patios and decks at 54% response. Screened porches and three-season rooms rounded out the top three with 31% of respondents.
2. Year-round gathering is popular. The most requested features for enhanced outdoor living spaces are expanded and upgraded seating, fireplaces and firepits, and weather protection. “Covid may be encouraging homeowners to get more year-round usage from their outdoor living areas,” the report notes. Among Millennials, integrated entertainment ranked above kitchen amenities for their outdoor living spaces.
New Home Trends Institute
This research arm of the respected John Burns Real Estate Consulting firm tracks a wide range of home topics through interviews with homeowners. These were some of the findings that relate to outdoor space from their most recent reports:
3. Privacy is an increasing priority. With the pandemic driving residents outside to exercise, meditate, rest or recuperate, it’s a bigger issue than in the past. “The more private the spaces, the more desirable they are for homebuyers,” the study notes. This is being addressed by builders in high density areas by sheltered side yards, careful window placement and covered patios. The study also showed that while homeowners like the nostalgia and social distance opportunities that front porches provide, they prefer a larger, private backyard space when space planning.
4. Outdoor showers are gaining popularity. The study points to them being a mainstay in upscale resort communities in Hawaii, with huge potential for luxury homes in the mainland sunbelt states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.
5. Homeowners want to work with an outdoor connection. When asked where residents prefer to set up their home offices, one of the most popular choices was at the back of the house with direct access to the yard or patio.
Houzz is a popular online destination for users seeking inspiration and organization for their projects. As its name implies, this site and app focuses on home-related projects, and its trend reports are compiled from surveying homeowners and home services professionals. This is what the company is seeing in outdoor spaces for the new year:
6. Pergolas are popping up. As noted by the NKBA, homeowners are looking to extend their usable living space outdoors – especially with more people crowded in for more hours at home – and they often need shade to properly enjoy it. A pergola is a relatively quick and affordable solution, and can often be built or installed in a weekend. Best of all, they provide adequate shade for dining, lounging and other outdoor fun and relaxation.
7. Backyard cottages are trending. Commonly called “granny flats” or accessory dwelling units (ADUs), these diminutive dwellings are showing up wherever local codes allow them to be added to single family home lots. Some are built on site; others are manufactured and trucked in. They are being used to house older relatives back from an assisted living facility, adult children needing a temporary home, tenants for additional income, or just to increase functional space to a suddenly-cramped residence. Their many functions include study areas, spare bedroom suites, work from home offices, gyms or meditation areas.