As homeowners embraced outdoor living during the COVID-19 pandemic, they prioritized functional outdoor spaces to relax, work, and spend time with family. And, according to a recent study, 85% of experts1 believe that homeowners are more willing to invest in outdoor living spaces this year. Spaces that were normally neglected or barely used for months at a time have become essential to at-home life, giving contractors the opportunity to work with on a variety of projects.
One of the top trends this year is the shift from designing spaces for entertainment purposes to functional, everyday areas. Prior to quarantine and social distancing, most outdoor living areas were used for entertaining. Now, four in five homeowners in the aforementioned study reported wanting to make changes to help them enjoy and use their space more often, with 35% saying outdoor is at the top of their wish list.
With the shifting mindset of how homeowners utilize their outdoor living spaces, projects that support remote work, exercise, cooking, and dining are popular. The integration of technology should be a significant consideration for contractors when planning with their clients. For example, when creating an additional work-from-home space, homeowners need a stable Wi-Fi connection and accessible electrical outlets for laptops and other devices. Heating and cooling elements as well as lighting are also crucial to ensure usability year-round. In fact, experts predict 48% of outdoor spaces2 will be adapted to allow for use during any season.
Bigger Spaces, More Patterns
As more homeowners seek out outdoor living, spaces are trending larger. Outdoor kitchens, living rooms, grilling stations, and patios are becoming highly requested to make these areas truly multi-use. Outdoor kitchens are expected to be the most desired addition this year, according to 61% of recently surveyed outdoor living experts—followed by a porch and patio combination.
While the size of outdoor spaces is increasing, new patterns and design styles are becoming more popular. Minimalist, neutral color palettes have been a mainstay over the past several years and continue to be a top choice. These colors are a great way to express a calm, soothing environment. Selections from this year’s Colors of the Year, like Ultimate Gray, also influence customer decisions, and make it easier to implement accents and pops of color, like Belgard’s 2021 Color of the Year, Marigold.
Modular, geometric patterns also are a top choice and fit well with this overall aesthetic. These patterns create clean, simple lines that add to the calming effect of the neutral tones. These patterns also are typically constructed through modular-style materials, which makes the design process simpler. Modular pavers work off common nominal sizes, so homeowners and contractors have the ability to play more with shape, size, and texture. They also make integration easier, with less installation time required.
But what about homeowners enjoying urban, more compact cities who may not have as much space to utilize? Microspaces are a great way to maximize a smaller outdoor area. Small water or fire features, planters and vertical gardens, and even plunge pools can be installed along lot or fence lines—and even rooftops.
As we move through 2021, but the interest in outdoor living shows no signs of waning. Manufacturers and contractors will need to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, materials, and installation techniques. With the right tools and ideas in place, they will be able to create amazing spaces for success.
Raboine is director of residential hardscapes at Belgard. He works to ensure that Belgard’s contractors and dealers receive best in class service and products. Raboine started his career as a contractor more than 25 years ago.
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