Summer is almost here, and now is the time to prep your outdoor space(s) for entertaining guests. With the proper materials, furnishings, recreational features, and landscaping treatments, you can achieve a seamless transition between the interior and exterior spaces of your home and effortlessly impart a sense of comfort and delight to family, friends, and neighbors, as they dine, sport, and socialize on the patio and/or in the courtyard. To help you begin planning the restoration and transformation of your modest backyard into an impressive open-air oasis of relaxation and entertainment, here are eight outdoor living trends for 2017.
According to Taysha Murtaugh of Country Living magazine, “The cold, modern concrete look is on its way out, as is wrought iron and plastic faux-wood furniture.” Instead, homeowners are sourcing wood and natural stone materials to produce an organic design throughout the garden and craft an outdoor living space that is more old-fashioned and real in appearance. With this transition from modern to traditional, people typically favor freeform decks and DIY-inspired fixtures like swing seating; furniture is made of wicker, rattan, bamboo, and teak, while hard-surface features like the walkway, patio, or fireplace are constructed from limestone, flagstone, slate, or concrete pavers mimicking natural stone.
Retro-inspired and Mixed Furniture Styles
Outdoor settings are being outfitted with more comfortable furnishings and fabrics to enhance the relaxation and performance of open-air venues at home. This means sofas, ottomans, armchairs, daybeds, and several other fixtures you normally find inside the home are being mass produced in durable, weather-resistant materials, with fade-resistant textiles, to furnish outside living spaces.
In terms of style, what is trending for 2017 could be described as eclectic bohemian. Maureen Welton, Creative Director at Article Furniture Company, observes, “People are going back to natural, woven styles and crochet techniques that add texture to any space. What was popular in the ‘70s – like rattan and wicker-inspired furniture – is making a comeback.” At the same time, homeowners are mixing and matching furniture styles – modern and traditional, local and foreign – to create a fresh new look that is spontaneous and unique. Note: Mingling furniture styles requires a sense of balance and intention in design; you unify the pieces by color, theme, and insinuated boundaries.
Color blocking is the pairing of two or three contrasting blocks of color to create bold focal points in an otherwise dull interior/exterior living space. This artful conception usually employs bright vibrant hues on opposing sides of the color wheel; however, subtler, more quiet tones can be used, making this trend applicable to varying styles and themes in an outdoor space. Examples of color blocking in an open-air setting include feature walls with painted squares that frame potted plants or counterbalance hanging artwork; bright patio curtains that backdrop modest furniture; and cheerful furnishings that stand out from a subdued background.
Advancing the Alfresco Kitchen
As open-air dining becomes more popular, a demand for the advancement of the alfresco kitchen – its performance and functionality – is to be satisfied by incorporating multiple cooking stations equipped with desirable appliances, cabinetry, and other conveniences. The inclusion of refrigerators, sinks, smokers, pizza ovens, ice machines, beer taps, and trash bins, in addition to ample drawer and cupboard space for storing ingredients, dishware, and cooking utensils, will eliminate multiple trips inside the home; everything a chef needs will be within hand’s reach. Furthermore, the installation of infrared heaters, fire pits, fire tables, or a fireplace can expand the usability and comfort of an outdoor dining area from six to ten months of the year.
Active Play Spaces
Kids are not the only ones who enjoy playing outside! To address the growing disinterest in lawn mowing and weed pulling, homeowners are excavating stretches of turf to put in various play spaces, including bocce, petanque, and cornhole courts; horseshoe pits; croquet yards; giant chess boards; and volleyball and basketball courts. These recreational features enrich the time spent outdoors, giving you and your guests fun, competitive pastimes.
Technology is moving outdoors. Advancements in media entertainment have made it possible for homeowners to stay connected to their favorite sitcoms and movies outside the home, be it from the comfort of their pool, patio lounge, or alfresco dining terrace. Imagine wading in the pool during an evening cinema of JAWS on a weatherproof HDTV or film screen, the heart-racing music score gushing forth from hidden rock speakers; it can heighten the experience, frighten you more than if you were watching it from the care of a comfy couch indoors.
Homeowners can also enjoy an extended Wi-Fi connection outdoors, allowing them to operate smart devices on the patio with a thumbs-on phone app, sync music to solar-powered speakers, or project a Netflix feature film on the television overhanging the fireplace.
Water features – waterfalls, fountains, bubbling rocks, koi ponds – continue to grow in popularity amongst homeowners as complimentary additions to any modest or lush gardenscape. They enhance the tranquility of an outdoor living space with the ambient sound of the running water, and the sight of gently streaming water gives life to an otherwise motionless environment. Some water-flowing structures act as artistic focal points, and the combined installment of these features with lighting systems can add dimension and reflection to the landscape.
There is a steadily growing movement for producing one’s food at home, as homeowners discover the benefits and convenience of a homemade garden. Tending a garden is relaxing, dispenses responsibility, and rewards attentive caretakers with nutritious, healthful fruits and vegetables. Also, it saves money on the grocery bill.
Sources for 2017 Outdoor Trends: