In the past 15 years, homeowners have taken a new look at their outdoor spaces. Today’s private backyard spaces frequently feature covered living space, outdoor kitchens fitted with appliances similar to those found indoors, and upholstered furniture reminiscent of a living room.
Doug Franklin of Lynn’s Patio Shop says, “The new outdoor room is the wow factor of the house. The customer who previously may have come in to purchase furniture to go around the pool is now looking for furniture to go under the roof of their outdoor room.”
In the past an outdoor pool may have been open for four months, but the outdoor room is used for eight months or more. Franklin says outdoor rooms continue to grow in popularity and can be found in new construction and in remodels of older homes.
According to Jerome Farris of Peddler Interiors, “Outdoor living has changed in the last decade as outdoor spaces have become more than entertaining patios. I like to weave these spaces as a true extension of a family room or den.”
Peddler Interiors has seen a rise in popularity outdoor furniture that features fully slip covered surfaces and looks like upholstered den furniture. Farris says, “Driving this trend is the desire for softness, ambiance, and a coziness. It is much more comfortable spending an evening outside visiting with friends or watching an outdoor television when you aren’t sitting on an iron piece of furniture. And, depending on the weather and sunlight, iron furniture can be too hot or too cold.”
Belgard suggests that in creating outdoor spaces that mimic indoor rooms, it’s helpful to apply interior design concepts to outdoor design, and texture plays an important role. Texture adds contrast and balance to a design by visually creating a perceived sense of touch. Interior designers often add textural elements to a design to add visual weight or “pop” to a room. Sometimes when an outdoor room feels incomplete the company reports that chances are, you’re missing textural elements.
Texture can be added to an outdoor design in a number of subtle and not-so-subtle ways. According to Belgard, an obvious place to begin is with hardscapes, which can serve at the foundation of a design. A number of paver styles that emulate the look of natural stone can provide an organic textural element.
In addition, an exterior living space might include incorporating natural stones, wicker, heavy linen fabrics, or textured decorative accessories like pottery or lanterns. Balance texture with landscaping choices like layered gardens, fringy plants, or textured planters.
Crystal Watson of Embers Grill & Fireplace Store reports that outdoor living is now a staple addition and a must-have for any home. “Customers’ approach to designing their outdoor spaces today reaches beyond a concrete slab and some lawn chairs as it was maybe 10 years ago,” she says. “Rather, today outdoor living design focuses on creating an area that is more versatile and usable for cooking, entertaining, recreation, and relaxation.”
Watson says, “Incorporating a mixture of outdoor elements such as an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor bar, fire pit, fireplace, lighting features, decks, water features, seating area, and more creates an outdoor living room that can be used year around. Although outdoor drapery panels have been around for a while, today Sunbrella offers a material that offers fresh styles and longevity, giving homeowners a lot of choice.”
Farris adds that, beyond slip covered furniture, oriental rugs made from a durable, stain resistance polypropylene fabric are also a popular choice. “These rugs dress up a deck and are easy to clean,” he says. “Another great trend in outdoor living is the use of clear panels to extend the use of a porch. These can be used to conserve the heat of a fireplace or a space heater. Just be sure you have plenty of ventilation.”
Speaking to the trend toward expansive outdoor kitchens, Watson says, “Most clients who are adding or improving their outdoor living area are all building some type of outdoor kitchen, outdoor bar, or perhaps just a built in grill area. Having an outdoor kitchen allows you to prep, cook, serve, dine, and entertain, all outside. Clients have discovered that they prefer to keep everything outside instead of coming back and forth to the indoor kitchen. It makes sense to keep all of the supplies conveniently located and accessible in their outdoor kitchen.”
Commenting on the growing trend toward outdoor kitchens and covered porches, Farris says, “These rooms are becoming outdoor living rooms including bringing electronics outside. One of my favorite ways to conceal an outdoor television is an antique shutter box. It protects the television while becoming a piece of wall art.
Many of Watson’s clients walk in to the store just wanting a built in grill, but, she says, “After they see all that you can do in a fully functional outdoor kitchen they add more items such as side burners, power burners, warming drawers, teppanyaki griddles, refrigerators, ice machines, sinks, pizza ovens, dry storage pantries, dishwashers, and more.” Embers features an indoor and outdoor showroom with full displays of a variety of outdoor kitchen appliances, brands, sizes, and features.
Watson reports that new outdoor kitchen appliance options are constantly being developed and adding to the overall outdoor cooking and entertaining experience. She says, “Outdoor kitchens in backyards are a great way for families, friends, and neighbors to connect and enjoy two great traditions of food and relationships.”
There are a number of sources for outdoor living in the Nashville area including:
David Patton Construction
Decorating Den Interiors
Embers Grill & Fireplace Store
GreenWorks Landscape Design
Hearth & Grill Shop
Lynn’s Patio Shop
Summer Classics Home
Trees ‘n Trends