Outside Living Trends: More Privacy, Backyard Offices

Find out the most requested features for enhanced outdoor spaces.

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Homeowners and house hunters are looking to maximize outdoor space while sheltering at home. The National Kitchen & Bath Association reports a 65% uptick in interest among its membership in outdoor living projects this year. NKBA, John Burns Real Estate Consulting, and Houzz have surveyed design professionals and home builders to identify some of the top outdoor trends this year.

Year-round gathering spots. NKBA professionals report that the most requested features for enhanced outdoor living spaces are upgraded seating, fireplaces, and fire pits. “COVID-19 may be encouraging homeowners to get more year-round usage from their outdoor living areas,” NKBA’s report notes. Millennials were particularly drawn to outdoor spaces that integrated more entertainment and gathering spots.

Privacy. John Burns Real Estate Consulting notes that homeowners are craving more privacy in their backyards, using their outdoor spaces more for meditation, exercise, rest, and recuperation. “The more private the spaces, the more desirable they are for home buyers,” the study notes. Builders are adopting this trend in high-density areas by sheltering side yards, careful window placement, and offering covered patios. Home remodeling site Houzz also is finding that pergolas are gaining popularity. Pergolas are relatively affordable and can be installed quickly to provide shade for dining, lounging, and other outdoor activities.

Backyard cottages. Houzz has been noticing an uptick in demand for backyard cottages, also known as “granny flats” or accessory dwelling units. Some of these backyard units are constructed onsite, while others are hauled in already constructed. These backyard spaces are being used to house older relatives who have returned from an assisted living facility, adult children needing a temporary home, tenants for additional income, or even as home offices. These spaces also could be used as study areas, a spare bedroom, or a home gym. For remote workers, they are seeking more of an outdoor connection, John Burns Consulting notes. The company found in its research that homeowners’ favorite spot to work from home is at the back of the house with direct access to the yard and patio.

Source: “Seven Outdoor Living Trends for 2021,” Forbes.com (Jan. 31, 2021)