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Top Design Trends in Outdoor Living Projects

Article-Top Design Trends in Outdoor Living Projects

Chris Haver/Alamy Stock Photo Modern living room with view to outdoor living area.
As outdoor spaces continue to top homeowners’ wish lists, check out a few inspiring projects showcasing some of the biggest trends.

Homeowners’ love of outdoor living only grew stronger during the pandemic and shows no sign of slowing down. They’re not afraid to make their backyards their own and a reflection of their specific interests and needs. And they recognize that outdoor spaces are an extension of their homes in terms of both space and purpose.

Here’s a look at some of the latest outdoor living trends as they’ve played out in completed projects.

Indoor-Outdoor Connections

The desire for seamless integration from indoors to outdoors hasn’t slowed, especially as the proliferation of multi-panel doors that slide fully out of place has continued to cross budget thresholds. This trend allows homeowners to easily expand the useable footprint and entertaining space while creating a deeper connection to the outdoors.

This Phoenix home takes the trend to ultimate levels. Similar-colored flooring and a canvas covering give the outdoor patio the feeling of an extension from the interior while making the space more comfortable during bright and hot summer days. The indoor-outdoor vibe continues into the adjacent outdoor dining area.

With a central courtyard between two wings, this San Francisco home offers indoor-outdoor connections from nearly every room, with an easy flow indoors and out.

The trend isn’t just reserved for large homes/spaces. This extension of a bedroom in Los Angeles creates a delightful, cozy sanctuary within a more compact footprint.


Smaller Pools and Plunge Pools

Smaller spaces or smaller budgets need not negate the desire for a pool. Smaller-footprint pools and deeper plunge pools are becoming increasingly attractive, avoiding excess for targeted functionality. Some offer a deep soak, others a linear plane for laps. Limited space doesn’t mean limited options.

For example, this plunge pool fits perfectly with the footprint of its Austin, Texas, home.

This pool in Miami replaced a too-large pool, opening up the outdoor space.



Functional Pools

Similarly, homeowners aren’t afraid to invest in pools that match their preferences and hobbies. Though hot tubs have always been popular, swim spas are more common and there’s been growing interest in cold plunge pools. Even hot tubs are evolving, with increasing bells and whistles to personalize the experience, with color therapy, sound and integration with home automation systems.

This copper cold-plunge pool by Diamond Spas is set against a relaxing background.

Diamond SpasDiamond Spas.jpg

While some swim spas are more obvious when installed, this project featuring a SwimEx model in Sacramento helps the unit blend in beautifully with the landscape.


Distinct Areas

As outdoor living spaces have continued to explode in popularity, a simple square deck just doesn’t tick all of the boxes anymore. Even for budget-friendly projects, creating a sense of purpose with each area of the outdoor space emulates the feel of the indoors while increasing functionality and purpose. This can be achieved through multiple deck and patio levels, physical dividers such as fireplaces and planters, transitions between different surface materials, or by using different colors or direction of deck boards for picture framing, borders and inlays.

Wood and concrete combine in this Seattle yard to create a distinct sense of purpose for the seating area.

For this San Francisco home, a pergola over the dining area, a fire pit, steps, and differing surfaces help distinguish functionalities of the outdoor spaces.


Extended Seasons

With more people desiring to entertain outside, it’s critical not to neglect the accessories that allow homeowners to use their outdoor spaces even when the colder temps, rain and darkness of fall arrive. Lighting (ambient and functional), infrared heaters, firepits, canopies and overhangs, and other tools can help keep the deck and patio safe and comfortable.

For example, overhead infrared heaters, ample lighting and screening make this Chicago roof deck accessible into the chillier months while still embracing the ambience of the night overhead.

A contemporary overhang ensures the owners of this Seattle home can use their outdoor living space during the city’s infamous rain, while the small step down creates an easy separation for a quieter gathering space on sunny days.

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