In midsummer, we’re outside more often. We’re grilling. We’re swimming. And just plain relaxing around the pool or patio with family and friends. To ensure everyone’s comfort and safety as they venture outside for longer periods of time, you’ll want to make sure your yard is up for the challenge of seating and entertaining your guests. Need some inspiration? Here are 5 ideas to get you started on boosting the fun.
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1. Outdoor Prep Area/Kitchen
During the pandemic, many of us spent more time at home and learned to cook our own meals — indoors and out. In fact, a 2021 design trends report by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) found that 60% of homeowners are looking to add outdoor kitchens to their exterior living spaces. That could mean anything from adding more counter space for handy food prep to adding an outdoor sink and incorporating cooking elements such as grills and pizza ovens.
2. Flexible Seating
Outdoor kitchen design isn’t only for the comfort and convenience of the cook. Depending on the space you have available and your area’s seasonal climate changes, you’ll probably also want to add outdoor seating so people can visit and enjoy their meals in the fresh air. But before buying outdoor furniture, keep in mind the walking space you’ll need to accommodate traffic flow, no matter how small your space may be. Consider “flex furniture” pieces that can be folded or serve double duty if it feels too crowded. For example, use an ottoman with a tray as a table rather than purchasing an actual table, so it can be used for seating, too. Add an outdoor throw blanket or small pillows on a chair for comfort. Also try layering other textures, such as a rug, to add a sense of coziness while designing with limited elements.
Furniture, accessories, and add-ons such as fire pits, heat lamps, misting systems, and fans that help you stay outside longer will help you enjoy the warm weather and cooler nights heading into fall. Turning occasionally used outdoor spaces into everyday living areas makes them especially popular for 2021.
Millions of people began gardening during the pandemic and are now enjoying homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs. This is a great activity for the whole family, including young children.
There are at least three types of backyard (or potted) gardens identified by seed company Burpee. The first, immunity gardens, focuses on foods like Vitamin C-rich tomatoes that boost overall health. A second edible gardening trend, meatless Monday gardens, feature hearty vegetables for plant-based dishes and are partially fueled by rising consciousness around climate change and animal welfare. And lastly, to help satisfy the ongoing desire to get out and travel, world herb gardens can be used to create the global dishes and flavors we're craving, at home. (Thai basil chicken, anyone?)
4. Social Front Yards
In many areas, front yards are emerging as the newest and most highly desirable home "addition", and they serve a completely different function than backyard living. Creating an outdoor living space at the front of the home is not only about maximizing available space for daily living — it's for welcoming your friends and neighbors, too.
Whereas 2020 had many drive-by parties and socially distanced gatherings, this year people are looking for ways to maintain those connections and turn them into real-life celebrations. A social front yard is less formal than a backyard design, and that simplicity is part of its appeal. Adding a bistro table and chairs, a tree swing, or a comfortable bench to your front yard brings life into an area that was previously only viewed from afar or passed by during a walk.
5. All the Modern Conveniences
As people move into the great outdoors to do more everyday living, they're looking to have all the same technology connections and conveniences they have inside. Activities like streaming movies and working from home have many people adding boosters to amplify Wi-Fi signals outdoors. Since most technology can be seamlessly integrated into outdoor living spaces, it's not dramatically changing the look or layout of outdoor living — unless you're one of the growing number of people creating entirely new spaces, such as outdoor theaters and home offices. But for most of us, adding a few boosters does the trick.
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