Homeowners engaged in major remodeling projects today designate 25 percent or more of their overall budgets for upgrades to outdoor living spaces. That’s the key finding of a recent survey conducted by Fixr.com of remodelers, residential architects and builders.

This percentage is astonishing given that interior spaces like kitchens and baths consume the lion’s share of a client’s budget. It’s a sign of just how much homeowners value upgraded outdoor living areas. These are spaces that far exceed the scale and finish levels of the decks, patios and pools required by prior generations of homeowners.

System Pavers Inc., a fast-growing outdoor living retailer, found similar results in a survey of homeowners looking to remodel in the coming year. When asked to prioritize four top projects they want for their homes, 33.8 percent of 500 respondents picked outdoor living, giving it the No. 1 priority, edging out kitchens, which was a top priority with 32.2 percent of respondents.

There are a number social and economic factors driving the outdoor living trend. The common thread is a desire to be outside and to make better use of the space.

For owners with smaller homes, yard space is an opportunity to expand the living space of a home. The yard, to them, is a new room without the cost of doing a full addition. Existing decks, patios and porches can be transformed over time. A stone fire pit surrounded by pavers might be added one year. The next year, the same homeowner might add a gazebo or covered dining area.

For owners of larger homes—many with existing patios and pools—there’s a desire to create luxury entertaining spaces with spa-like finishes. High-end outdoor living spaces like the nine projects featured in this issue commonly include full outdoor kitchens with appliances; hang-out spaces with fire pits; covered spaces for watching sports with friends and family; and, increasingly, they are Wi-Fi enabled, so owners can open their computers and work from home.

Top Trends

Indoor-outdoor connection: The recent Outdoor Living Trends Report by Fixr.com emphasizes the significant trend toward creating seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor living areas. This approach includes spaces that mimic the comfort and aesthetic of interior spaces while taking advantage of outdoor beauty, achieved through architectural elements like floor-to-ceiling multislide and folding doors.

Outdoor kitchens: Outdoor kitchens continue to gain popularity, reflecting the desire to extend interior living comforts outdoors. The latest research on outdoor kitchen trends for 2024 highlights a focus on modular design, environmental considerations, multifunctional spaces and the integration of technology, along with a preference for ruggedized appliances that can stand up to temperature and weather extremes. See the writeup on outdoor kitchen trends.

Privacy is also a growing concern with homeowners seeking to create more secluded outdoor areas, using solutions such as fences and strategic plantings.

Upscale relaxation and WFH spaces: There’s an increasing trend toward upscale relaxation areas in outdoor spaces, incorporating high-quality materials and amenities to create a resort-like feel. The persistence of working from home has also led to the emergence of dedicated outdoor workspaces. Other popular trends include fire pit tables, kitchen gardens and climate-resilient gardening.

Material and design preferences: Minimalism is predicted to dominate backyard design, with a preference for simple furniture and features. Modular and comfortable furniture are the top choices for outdoor spaces, aligning with the indoor-outdoor living trend. Eco-friendly furniture is also gaining traction.

Product insights: Pergolas and patios dominate the market due to their popularity, ease of construction and affordability compared to other structures like pavilions and gazebos. There’s a noticeable preference for materials that offer durability, low maintenance and resistance to weather elements.

Outdoor Kitchen Trends

Modular design: There’s a strong trend toward modular outdoor kitchens, offering flexibility to customize according to space and lifestyle needs. This approach allows for easy reorganization or updates, making it possible to keep up with seasonal trends or personal preferences.

Eco-friendly considerations: Sustainability is becoming increasingly important in outdoor kitchen design, with a push toward using eco-friendly materials such as reclaimed wood or metal and avoiding harmful chemicals. Additionally, there’s a trend toward incorporating energy-efficient appliances to help reduce environmental impact.

Multifunctional spaces: Outdoor kitchens are evolving beyond cooking to become venues for entertaining guests and relaxing outdoors, integrating seating areas, cooking stations or even fire pits to create versatile multipurpose spaces.

Outdoor cooking appliances and features: Gas grills remain popular for their convenience and temperature control while pizza ovens, side burners, built-in refrigerators, and dishwashers are also in demand. Outdoor bars with complete setups, including ice makers and wine coolers, are among the hottest trends, enhancing the entertainment experience.

Technology integration: The inclusion of smart technology in outdoor kitchens is on the rise, with features such as smart grills, wireless temperature controls, and automated lighting systems enhancing the cooking and entertaining experience. Weather-resistant entertainment systems are also popular, adding to the ambiance.

Design considerations: When designing an outdoor kitchen, it’s important to consider the available space, as it influences the type of appliances and features that can be included. Durable materials that can withstand weather conditions, such as stone countertops and stainless-steel finishes, are recommended. Also, don’t overlook the importance of lighting fixtures to create an inviting atmosphere. QR

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