Deciding what to do with your outdoor space is a crucial part of maximizing the potential of your home – particularly if you don’t actually have a lot of it. With the standard lawn being only one of many ways to go about setting up your outdoor area, it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out how to shape your space in a way you’re not regretting later. As homeowners look to balance aesthetic appeal with functionality and maintenance requirements, a little research into the wide range of options can have you on your way to enjoying your outdoor space no matter the size. Here’s a look at five of the hottest trends in outdoor living.
1. Solar lighting
In previous eras, lighting up your shrubs or your pathways at night was an exercise in futility, leaving you with clunky light fixtures and expensive electrical bills. But as we continue to head into the green energy age, placing simple, solar-based LED lights around your property can be inexpensive and self-sustainable, allowing you to very easily highlight your favorite landscaping features however you choose. Advanced options also allow you to use glare guards to softly light up specific areas without blasting guests with annoying spotlights. As the possibilities of outdoor lighting continues to expand, you don’t even need professional installation to make your outdoor space fully functional (and visually attractive) well after dark.
2. Barbecue courtyards/outdoor kitchens
One trend that has been really gaining steam is the barbecue courtyard, a term popularized a few years ago by HGTV. Designed to stress ease of access from all rooms of a house, a barbecue courtyard is essentially just a finished deck with a built-in grill and hopefully enough space leftover for a dining table, creating a great setup for that big party or just to enjoy the elements on a regular basis. Part of the reason why it’s catching on so well is because of the extremely limited work that goes into it once it’s finished, with savings in landscaping fees helping to justify the cost of installation. Barbecue courtyards are particularly great for those who want to transform a smaller yard into a practical outdoor space for everyday use, effectively extending the square footage of your home.
3. Gas Fireplaces
If you’re looking for an excuse to capitalize on your outdoor living space, a gas fireplace can be the perfect gathering spot without the laborious wood-gathering process of traditional fireplaces. Many new fireplaces even come with the ability to start the fire remotely, making it as easy as possible to get a fire up and running. A wave of newly popularized design ideas – from Spanish flair to sleek and modern – also give you a wide variety of different possibilities that can fit the unique features of your space. Particularly for small outdoor areas, a gas fireplace can provide a terrific boost of functionality that is easy to maintain and great for guests.
4. Covered patios
The whole point of having a great outdoor space is to actually use it, which is where covered patios come into the equation. Especially great in warmer climates that get a lot of direct sun, covered patios don’t have to be very big to be the perfect outdoor hangout area and come with very minimal upkeep. You don’t need to go with an expensive permanent awning either, as a large patio umbrella can create a refuge from the sun allowing you to spend considerably more time enjoying the outdoors. With a nice string of lights and a few pieces of patio furniture, even a small area can be transformed into a space you can use day and night with hardly any upkeep.
5. Minimal is good
Before the recession, going for flashy landscapes aimed to impress were all the rage although that has shifted to more practical uses of outdoor space. Stressing longer lasting and more natural materials than previously, homeowners have been going with sensible options like cedar post pergolas that can provide a little shade and also fit the scale of your outdoor space. In the same vein, a small backyard lounge with an outdoor couch can be placed over artificial grass for an easily sustainable haven of relaxation – even with limited yard space.
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