Consumer and Home Design Trends

From Ordinary to Extraordinary: Using Outdoor Spaces

June 24, 2015

One of the most profitable new design trends we are seeing this year is some very creative use of outdoor space to bring light into the house and to expand the feel of the home’s size. This has resulted in higher home prices per square foot than would have been achieved otherwise. I am going to highlight a few examples that we have featured in our DesignLens subscription this year.

Outdoor spaces have long been recognized as an additional opportunity to maximize profit potential. Consumers consistently rank outdoor spaces as one of their most desired benefits, both in the home and the community. Well executed outdoor spaces can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, as seen in the wraparound outdoor room below, which opens up the family space to the environment and expands the usable space for day-to-day living or entertainment. Multi-track doors open the corner of the home to the outdoors and are beautiful in both function and aesthetics.

Buyers’ top preference in regard to outdoor spaces is the privacy they provide, and the top features of these outdoor areas are the outdoor room, outdoor fireplace, and water features. Creative use of outdoor spaces provides an opportunity to add to the bottom line and make product more appealing to the end user. These spaces translate well from high density all the way to a luxury product. For example, roof top decks have become a popular amenity in high-density homes, as shown below.

Fireplaces can also be added to high-density products and courtyard homes, addressing the national number one backyard preference among consumers. Even narrow side yards, with careful attention to details, can be beautifully designed and merchandised as usable space.

Privacy—the national number one preference consumers want from an outdoor space—can be provided in a multitude of ways. This deck (below) off the master bedroom becomes an outdoor room that not only enlarges the function of the master suite but also provides the privacy desired.

Details in outdoor spaces can be extravagant or simple in execution. The beauty of well-designed outdoor spaces and details is the added benefit that is achieved in drawing the eye outward, expanding the line of sight. Outdoor areas can be executed using materials that can be very inexpensive. These spaces can be small in footprint, but they must be large enough to be functional in order to be effective. It is vital that outdoor areas are large enough to contain furnishings and still be able to navigate.The most important feature of a well-designed outdoor space is the ability to design it in such a way as to enhance the home and activate it.

The outdoor spaces in masterplans contribute to the desirability of the community, drawing residents out to enjoy their neighborhood. It is in the details where ordinary outdoor spaces become extraordinary, both on the masterplan level and for individual homes. These details can be added anywhere you build, bringing magic to your visitor’s and homeowner’s environment.

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