I go out to hundreds of homes each year. Based on advertising, you might assume the hot topics in outdoor home improvements these days are turfgrass reduction, eco-friendly design, and water conservation. While these projects are definitely on the upswing, the most popular outdoor home improvements tap into our need for social gatherings. These projects meet the need to make useful outdoor living spaces that can entertain your family or wow your friends and neighbors!
So, with the new year approaching, here is a look back at the top 10 most asked-for additions from 2015 and my predictions for the most popular outdoor home improvements for 2016! Start planning now if you want to have your new outdoor living space ready to go this spring.
#10 Outdoor Lighting – Tasteful outdoor lighting is one of the most cost-effective ways to transform an outdoor space. Highlighting trees, making water features sparkle, and illuminating pathways can make the yard come to life when the sun goes down.
#9 Water Features – Interest points keep your eyes moving and discovering things, and the sound of falling water is not only pleasant but can help drown out unwanted noise. Water features like fish ponds, waterfalls and streams are a way to create a theme for the yard.
#8 Screening – Love your neighbors, but don’t want to talk to them every time you step outside? Strategic plantings create a soft line-of-sight barrier and defined space, which is especially helpful for small yards. An added benefit, natural screens help to dampen road noise.
#7 Swimming Pool – A centerpiece for your yard that is useful beyond the obvious fun. With attractive seating and patio space, most people still gather around the pool after the season. Pool lighting also creates a wonderful mood for an outdoor party.
#6 Hot Tub – These need a separate area or they’ll take over your entertainment space. Nobody ever says they got one too big, but many say they got one too small.
#5 Pergola – Hot and new, these are made in all sizes from small racks that define a space, to full covers with plexiglass panels for weather protection.
#4 Three Outdoor Rooms – Family room is casual seating, dining room is sit down elegant, and some type of fire feature is recreational fun for children (with adult supervision).
#3 Outdoor Kitchen – What used to be storing the grill on the patio has now opened up a cooking station that gives more prep-space and the capacity to host a social gathering.
#2 Outdoor Bar – The outdoor bar is the perfect outdoor gathering place. Most people ask for a casual sit-down area. The outdoor bar is the hub of the backyard, and also doubles as a serving counter, buffet, or bistro.
#1 Fireplace or Fire Circle – The first step is to find out if you are outdoor “fire folks” or not. Try a portable fire ring as a test – if you have one and use it all the time, an upgrade may be in your future.