After a long winter indoors, everyone wants to rush outside and do what? That's when it's time to turn to the annual survey of landscape architects for the hottest outdoor living features. They are busy designing outdoor spaces all year long, so they're able to rank the features that are popping up outdoors from traditional lighting and seating, to sinks, refrigerators and televisions.
The list in many ways could be describing another room or two inside your home, and there are even heating and cooling features to extend the usability of these outdoor spaces to more months of the year. It's pretty amazing and just to be sure you consider aspects of home improvement, here's what they said on AppraisersForum.com. “It is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for the amenity and typically when a person is buying a home, the deck or patio is nice, but the other amenities of the property typically far out weigh the outdoor living space”.
You'll want to dig deeper than this for major improvements like a deck or outdoor kitchen. When renovating a house in Portsmouth NH, I found it very helpful to have an appraiser review my plans. Roger told me right away that for the location, house size and value, a deck was a requirement and the appraisal would be adjusted down if I removed the deck.
Lighting Tops the List of Outdoor Living Features
Homeowners know that landscaping increases their home's value, and lighting is a key element for safety and beauty. So it shouldn't be a surprise that lighting tops the list of outdoor living features with 98.3% of landscape architects rating this as somewhat or very popular. Here's a great example of lighting that is just as much art, and an integrated part of this landscape design from Creative Rock and Waterscapes in Australia.
Seating is An Important Outdoor Living Features
If we're spending a fair amount of time outdoors and not just working in the garden, we need a place to sit down. So in the world of landscape architects, outdoor seating represented 3 of the top 6 outdoor living features. One decision you've got to make is whether you're going to build seating in as a permanent fixture that will remain when you sell the house, or buy outdoor furniture you can take with you. My Brown Jordan table and chairs have moved from New York, to California and now sits on my deck in New Hampshire.
The more interesting seating decision appears to be whether you want to tuck casual seating into the landscape design? This makes a lot of sense when you want a place to escape for privacy or a great view or …
- Seating/dining areas – 97.7%
- Installed seating (benches, seat walls, ledges, steps, boulders) – 89.6%
- Outdoor furniture – 84.1%
Popular Outdoor Living Features Include Fire
Now that you've got a comfortable place to sit, you might want to add a focal point to this outdoor space, just like you do in each room of your house. Another surprise was that fireplaces/firepits are more more popular outdoor living features at 95.4% versus your tried and true grill (94.3%) for a family barbeque.
Other Outdoor Living Features
Here's where the list of outdoor living features gets really interesting.
- Features related to food prep/serving – sinks (55.0%), refrigerators (53.7%), counter space (75.5%) and utility storage (65.5%).
- Entertainment focused outdoor living features – stereo systems (60.7%), wireless/Internet connectivity (56.0%) and televisions/projection screens (49.4%).
- Outdoor comfort – outdoor heaters (48.9%), outdoor cooling systems including fans (37.2%).
- Sleeping and bathing – showers/baths (46.8%), hammocks (34.1%) and bedrooms/sleeping spaces (14.9%).
Photo credits go to Creative Rock and Waterscapes in Australia (www.creativerock.com.au).
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